Practical Discipline

There was a sense of freedom in knowing that I would never run out of room to grow. There was peace in knowing the race was over. Where I was right now was just where I should be, given the amount of effort I had expended. I saw the wake behind my boat for the first time, and I realized I was moving ahead, and pretty quickly, as a matter of fact. But the most important truth revealed to me in that moment was this: My real joy was found in my ability to learn to experience my growth, moment by … [Read more...]

Contemplative Practice and… Business Books?

Sometimes, I believe, the best books we can read to support our spiritual discipline are books that do not appear to be "spiritual" at all. Here's a case in point. I recently stumbled across a new line of business books by a fellow named Jim Randel; the series is called "the skinny on" — they're a bit high on the cutesy quotient, using stick figures (get the "skinny" pun?) and humor to build a narrative around the topic of each book. But they're quick reads, and present a straightforward a … [Read more...]

The Dharma of Time

Every day I want to do a number of things. I want to nurture my relationships with my family — and with God (and that means at least part of the Daily Office and contemplative prayer); I want to put in an honest day's work at the store; I want to post to this blog; I want to work on whatever writing project I have going on at the time; I want to do at least some reading (my monastic gadfly doesn't say I shouldn't read at all, just not as much as I tend to), and of course, there are the little b … [Read more...]


Check out my to-do list:I want to lose about 25 pounds. I want to learn to play the bass guitar (and, for that matter, the regular guitar, but first things first). I want to de-clutter the garage (ay yi yi) — and come to think of it, there's plenty of clutter inside the house that needs dealing with as well. I want to complete two new book proposals, and edit one of my out-of-print books for the publication of a new/revised edition. I want to improve my daily fidelity to contemplative p … [Read more...]

The Courage to Write

The writing retreat has exceeded my expectations. I hope that the retreatants feel the same way. Yesterday morning we had a panel discussion with four monks and three Lay-Cistercians on the relationship between writing and spirituality. What emerged was how wide a terrain this topic covers. One of the monks is a blogger who does not divulge that he's a monk on the blog; one of the laywomen a diarist who never lets anyone read what she's written (and rarely goes back to read it herself). Two of … [Read more...]

What You Want

Currently I'm participating in the Writing and Journal Keeping weekend at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. As I've seen in other writer's gatherings that I've participated in, a major topic of conversation is discipline. Many writers feel like they don't have enough of it to gain traction with their writing practice; others say they have too much discipline, and end up feeling that their writing is often compulsive rather than free. So we'll be talking about discipline a lot today: what it is, … [Read more...]