An Accident and its Aftermath

In the summer of 1992, I was in a rather nasty car accident.It left me with a jaw broken in several places, a few missing teeth, lacerations along one arm, and a totaled vehicle. After surgery (leaving my mouth wired shut for six weeks — no easy feat for this enthusiastic speaker) and the purchase of a shiny new Saturn sedan, I met with my spiritual director to sort out my feelings. There I was, a young man who just had a brush, if not with death, at least with what could have been a far m … [Read more...]

“Where Two or Three Are Gathered”

A sermon preached at First Christian Church of Decatur, Decatur GA, on September 4, 2011Scripture: Matthew 18:20“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”What an amazing statement for our Lord to make. He did not say, “Wherever a properly licensed minister of the Gospel shall be, I am there, ” or “Wherever an accredited Bible scholar shall teach, I am there” or anything like that. He promised his presence to Christians — to all Christians! — wherever and wh … [Read more...]

“Accept all things… silently and with a tranquil mind…”

Then you should readily and trustfully commit yourself and all that concerns you to the unfailing and most sure Providence of God, in silence and peace. He Himself will fight for you, and will grant you a liberty and consolation better, nobler, and sweeter than would be possible if you gave yourself up day and night to your fancies, to vain and wandering thoughts, which hold captive the mind, as they toss it  hither and thither, wearying soul and body, and wasting uselessly alike your time and … [Read more...]

“He Climbed a Tree to See Him”

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. (Luke 19:4)When I was a boy I loved to climb trees. We had two pine trees in our back yard, and one of them I could only climb up maybe five feet or so, but in the other, larger one I could get at least ten or twelve feet off the ground, which was pretty high for a ten year old kid! How fondly I remember my clothes and limbs covered with dust when I would finally descend from the branches. Even … [Read more...]

Intercessory Contemplation

This thought came to me yesterday. We Christians understand spirituality and mysticism in communal ways: we are knit into the Body of Christ, our mandate is to love one another, we are to "be Christ" for each other, and so forth. For this reason, intercessory prayer — praying on behalf of others — is an important part of Christian spirituality. Indeed, in Catholicism it is customary to make offerings to the church to have masses said for the intentions of those we love.Meditation and con … [Read more...]

On Learning a Musical Instrument as a Metaphor for Contemplative Practice

I'm a beginner with the bass guitar. I bought an inexpensive Ibanez bass the January before last and took about four months of lessons, but then stopped as I got more involved in writing my book on Christian mysticism. Now, over a year later, the book is on my editor's desk and I've resumed working with the bass. Thanks to a rather lucrative freelancing job I had earlier this year, I've upgraded my gear and am now learning with a Rickenbacker bass (I am not worthy to be playing such a wonderful … [Read more...]

Five Marks of Authentic Mysticism (Underhill)

In her introduction to Orbis Books' Essential Writings of Evelyn Underhill, Emilie Griffin notes that Underhill delineates five marks or characteristics of authentic Christian mysticism. These are well worth considering:Christian mysticism is active and practical. Even a Carthusian hermit takes responsibility for living his contemplative life with honor, dignity, and personal integrity. Meanwhile, for the vast majority of Christian contemplatives, the life of silence is embedded in a … [Read more...]