Craving, Avarice, and Deadly Sin

Had an interesting exchange on Twitter over the weekend. It began with I made the following tweet:According to Dorothee Soelle, the Christian "deadly sin" of avarice equals the Buddhist concept of craving.Here is the quote from Dorothee Soelle which inspired my pithy little comment.Possessions are often regarded as a kind of life-threatening drug, impeding the power of judgment. 'Sloth and cowardice creep in with every dollar or guinea we have to guard.' Having contributes to rendering … [Read more...]

Before We Face the Monkey Mind

A reader has written to me with the following question:I make my living as a psychotherapist & most of my work is spiritually oriented counseling with Christians.  I have long been trying to introduce clients to contemplation through encouraging brief periods of silence, solitude and openness  (15-20 min).  I also taught an introductory  course through my church.  Finally, I am preparing to lecture other therapists on using contemplation in therapy.As I have tried to introduce others we … [Read more...]

The Desert and the Dark Night

In the Christian tradition, there are two symbols which recur frequently in the literature of contemplative prayer: the symbols of Desert and of Dark Night. The Desert symbol spans the spiritual history of the people of God from Abraham's movement into unknown territory, through the wanderings in the wilderness, the desert movement of the early church, to Charles de Foucauld and the revival of desert spirituality in the twentieth century. It stands for the realities of purity, of simplicity, of … [Read more...]

Meeting Jane Tomaine

Episcopal priest Jane Tomaine has written a wonderful book on Benedictine spirituality called St. Benedict's Toolbox. Tomorrow she is presenting a one-day workshop on "Benedictine Spirituality: Living Intentionally in a Distracted World" here in Atlanta, and alas, I won't be able to attend — I'll be busy co-leading a retreat at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit on "the Wisdom of the Christian Mystics." As much as I love leading retreats at the Monastery, I was a wee bit grumpy about not being a … [Read more...]


A reader of my blog has written to me to ask for advice on reading the mystics. He notes, "they embrace very traditional theology that is awkward for me in the 21st century."Indeed.There is no one single "Christian mystical theology." I would be suspicious of anyone who tries to distill the teachings of all the great mystics into a single summarized statement of "this is what you do in order to become a mystic." It just doesn't work that way. For one thing, the mystics stretch across two … [Read more...]

Taken Up

Today is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What I find interesting about this idea of the assumption is its implications for those of us living here on the earth today.Morning prayer today includes this Responsory: "Today the Virgin Mary was taken up to heaven." Now, if we can agree that heaven is all about being in the presence of God, and if we can also agree that God is omnipresent, then it seems obvious that we can be "taken up to heaven" right here and right now. No … [Read more...]

Silence: Doorway to Contemplation and Interfaith Friendship

I've just had a new article published on the website of Atlanta's Interfaith Community Institute. It's called "Silence: Doorway to Contemplation and Interfaith Friendship." In Psalm 46, God is quoted as saying, “Be still and know that I am God.” God, the Ultimate Mystery, is greater than human language, thought, or ideas. For this reason, language always seems to conceal God as much as it reveals God.While not, therefore, replacing the heritage of theological and mystical language that tes … [Read more...]