At the Edge of Waiting — A Celtic Approach to Contemplation

The Irish word for contemplation — or contemplative prayer — is rinnfheitheamh. Yes, that’s a mouthful! I only have enough Irish to be dangerous, and the pronunciation of Irish depends on which of several dialects you’re speaking, but to the best of my knowledge the pronunciation is something like RINN-eh-hev.So why such a big word, for such a simple concept? To answer that question, let’s take rinnfheitheamh apart.Rinn means a point or a tip, as in the sharp point of a sword. Fheitheamh … [Read more...]

How Julian of Norwich Changed My Life

Julian of Norwich, the author of Revelations of Divine Love, had a series of visions on May 8, 1373. Or maybe May 13, we're not entirely sure.[1] Nevertheless, today is a day that people around the world honor as a memorial of Julian's extraordinary encounter with Divine Love.And it was 33 years ago on this date — May 8, 1984 — that I attended a one-woman play about Julian of Norwich, at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. I went to that play because I was interested in Julian; but tha … [Read more...]

Richard Rohr on the Spirituality of Unknowing (Video)

Here's a treat for all you Richard Rohr fans (and if you're not a Rohr fan, perhaps this is a good introduction to him and his ideas).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnTC4NNIACkThis video was recorded at the Science and Nonduality Conference — which is a secular/interfaith gathering of folks exploring (in the words of their website) "a new relationship to spirituality, free from religious dogma, based on timeless wisdom traditions, informed by cutting-edge science, and grounded in direct … [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...]

What is Contemplation? (Video)

So what is contemplation?In this video I talk about contemplation, beginning with the definition found in the glossary to the Catholic Catechism: A form of wordless prayer in which mind and heart focus on God's greatness and goodness in affective, loving adoration; to look on Jesus and the mysteries of his life with faith and love.It may not be the best definition out there, but there's a lot to work with here. Contemplation is...wordless — it's not something you can think. It's b … [Read more...]

Five Ideas that Shape Contemplative Prayer

I recently listened to the audiobook version of Chris Anderson's TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking. If your work in any way involves public speaking, I heartily encourage you to give it a listen. Chris is a humble and charming enough speaker in his own right, but fortified with tips and tricks, the do's and don't's, from the best speakers to give talks at TED Conferences over the years, the book provides an excellent survey of what really makes a speech effective.And one … [Read more...]