Parting the Veil

edited abstract dark by Jim Lukach on flickrThe light on the ceiling of our bedroom is slanted in a parody of the open doorway, letting in the blue glow of a nightlight from the hall. This nightly and usually innocuous shape hides something in the darkness tonight; I see it creeping in the light box, plotting something against me, about to attack.

Nightmares, night paralysis, and obsessive fears are not new to me. They have been part of my life since I was three and my mom took me to a psychologist because I wouldn’t leave her side, not even to go to the bathroom at home.

When I was eight and still unwilling to let my mom leave me alone in my room at bedtime, my mom, in an act of desperation, performed a sort of exorcism on the closet door that held the faces of dark monsters and demons in the grains of wood.

In order to fend off those terrors of demons and monsters in my late teens and twenties, I took comfort in a less mysterious Christianity. I went to grad school, I studied theology, I became skeptical of great religious emotion. I thought I could plaster away my sensitivities and obsessive thoughts behind a wall of intellectual belief. And it worked for a while.

But my pretense of intellectual faith and skepticism of religious experience didn’t last. [Read more…]

Praying the “Sleeping Tune”

joypaintingIn an effort to help believers who struggle with prayer, many evangelical speakers and books have attempted to break the discipline down into manageable parts. As a young adult, I learned the acronym ACTS as a way to structure my conversations with God (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). I’ve purchased, begun, and abandoned at least a dozen prayer journals and apps.

There’s nothing wrong with methods that help us commit to spiritual practices. However, these strategies haven’t helped me, at least lately, feel any more in tune with God. Or, to be more honest, I haven’t even tried to use them. I feel burdened by these resources then guilty for remaining silent while believers in other countries literally risk their necks to speak to their Creator.

In his book The Naked Now, Richard Rohr writes that “prayer is actually setting out a tuning fork. All you can really do in the spiritual life is get tuned to receive the always present message.”

[Read more…]

Chrysalis, Catacomb, Cloud Part 2

R. Fludd, Utriusque Cosmi (1617)

Guest Post
Jen Hinst-White

Continued from yesterday

 

Rob goes to bed; I go to my desk and light white candles. Someone I know makes a yearly Lenten project of holding a poetry contest, soliciting translations of psalms from friends. The timing is good; I need a quiet task. Which psalm, then?

Years ago I memorized Psalm 25, and it’s become my favorite ground to walk in the book of Psalms. It’s the one I return to, a beggar’s song of waiting and yearning and aloneness.

Plus—it’s got tricks built in. In Hebrew, this psalm is an acrostic, with the first letter of each line spelling out the Hebrew alphabet. Why the acrostic? Maybe for easy recall when you have no presence of mind. Ache and longing made manageable by mnemonics. [Read more…]

Falling Upward: Don Draper Meets Richard Rohr

Guest Post
By Cathy Warner

 

The opening credits of Mad Men have always disturbed me: Don Draper falling out his Madison Avenue office window sinking past billboards and ads, past a stocking-clad woman’s leg, past his family. It’s a long free fall and he never hits bottom.

If only somewhere during his downward tumble, Draper grabbed onto a copy of Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, then he might read this small, wise book while cocooned in a body cast, broken bones mending. With some sexy nurse or his second wife standing by to turn the pages, Draper might begin to understand that there’s a reason neither his career success nor his marriages nor his affairs satisfy him, a reason that speaks to the needs of his soul.

He’d discover that it’s time he entered the second half of his life. [Read more…]