Is it possible to be a “Do It Yourself” Christian Mystic? Evelyn Underhill would say “No” — and I agree with her

Nearly all Christian mystics maintain that an essential characteristic of Christian mysticism is participation in the Body of Christ, which is to say, in the Christian community of faith. In other words, to be a Christian mystic, it is as important to be a follower of Christ as it is to be a mystic. And to be a follower of Christ means to express spirituality in a communal way.The above statements annoy a lot of people. Sorry about that, but that's how it rolls.Recently a reader of th … [Read more...]

Compass Points for the Spiritual Life (Video)

How do we orient ourselves in the life of the Spirit? What landmarks, or directions, guide us along the way as seek to walk the path of God?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHiONeI1NQYHere is a video that was recorded a while back — I believe it was the summer of 2012 (I still had a beard, which didn't disappear until early 2015). At the time, I was playing around with the idea that spirituality functions as a kind of "compass" by which we orient our lives.But just as a compass o … [Read more...]

Why I Love the Carmina Gadelica (Despite Its Flaws)

You are the joy of all joyous things, You are the light of the beam of the sun, You are the door of the chief of hospitality, You are the surpassing star of guidance, You are the step of the deer of the hill, You are the step of the steed of the plain, You are the grace of the swan of swimming, You are the loveliness of all lovely desires. — "The Invocation of the Graces" from the Carmina Gadelica (modernized language) I recently have acquired a copy of the latest edition of the Ca … [Read more...]

Books I Recommend (On Various Topics)

I'll admit — I love lists of books. I find browsing someone's list of recommended titles is a great way to find a new treasure. So with that in mind, here is an admittedly idiosyncratic list of books that I recommend for your consideration. Obviously I lead off with books on contemplation/mysticism, since that's the main focus of this blog. But I wander a bit off topic as the list goes on... browse on, you'll see for yourself. It's an eclectic, ecumenical, and interfaith-friendly ass … [Read more...]

A Contemplative Conversation (Video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqTq5r8ITaM&t=3sIs God hidden? How do we see (or behold) the presence of God? What is the place of interfaith dialogue in religious or spiritual searching? What is the value of looking at a mystic who lived 500 or 600 years ago — what message does such a figure have for our time? What is the best way to respond to the contentious or divisive issues of our time?These are just a few of the questions that we touched on in the above video, when I sat down with … [Read more...]

Is it possible to “fail” at contemplative prayer?

Anyone who has ever trained with weights knows that form is important. If you lift heavy weights without proper form, you run the risk of a significant injury.The other day I was working with a trainer, and we were doing a fairly basic shoulder press, and he noted that my back was bowing. He mentioned it to me, and I immediately began to overcompensate. He pointed that out to me, and I said "I'm worried about my form.""Your form is going to fail," he remarked. In other words, as I … [Read more...]

Building Contemplative Community Online: An Interview with Jeff Genung

A common complaint I hear from contemplatives — especially people new to contemplative practice — is a sense of isolation, of not having a contemplative community. "The leaders in my church just don't seem to resonate with me," one budding contemplative recently told me. "I feel like they are disinterested in following this journey that I am on." Contemplatives, even when actively engaged in their neighborhood church or faith community, often find that they don't know where to turn to meet others … [Read more...]