The Antidote for the World-weary: Spiritual Practice

old-books-candle-7652605-e1358035452434In times such as those in which we live — a time of an unrelenting sorrow, violence, tumult, and outrage, the weariness of this broken world kindles for me the longing for light. Amid such darkness it can be hard to know where to begin and how to access that light. This is the challenge of all ages. Yet, in all ages, there have points of light in persons who might be called our champions of faith (whether or not they embraced the moniker). These light-bearers cultivated their own spiritual practices of reflection and, in so doing, have shown the way for others to follow similarly. I have found my personal spiritual exploration to be an integral part of forming and healing my soul amid this tumultuous world. Over many years I have found ballast and solace by taking time out of my day to read great works of deep thinkers and spiritual champions and ponder their sentiments. For example, I have benefited from literary figures such as

John Donne:

You are the Alchemist which always had wit, whose one spark could make good things of bad.

and George MacDonald:

The sun is shining golden above me; the sea lies blue beneath his gaze; the same world sends its growing things up to the sun, and its flying things into the air which I have breathed from my infancy; but I know the outspread spendour a passing show, and that at any moment it may, like the drop-scene of a stage, be lifted to reveal more wonderful things.

I have been changed by the writings of

St. Augustine:

“In all the regions where I thread my way, seeking Your guidance, only in You do I find a safe haven for my mind, a gathering-place for my scattered parts, where no portion of me can depart from You.”

and St. Francis:

“If there be any brother in the world who has sinned to the utmost degree possible, that once he has looked into your eyes, he would never go away without your mercy, if he is seeking mercy. And if he is not looking for mercy, you should ask him if he desires mercy. And if a thousand times thereafter he should sin before your eyes, love him more, that you may draw him to the Lord.

and St. Clare:

What you hold, hold; what you do, keep doing and do not stop with swift pace, a nimble step, and feet that do not stumble so that even your walking does not stir up any dust.

I have found consolation in the works of Teresa of Avila:

Whatever you meditate upon first thing in the morning, have before you all day long and put into practice the desires which [God] has given you in your time of prayer. This will be of great benefit to you.

These are a sampling of thinkers and writers whose spiritual insights have forged in me an interior landscape that defends against the rage of this world.

I have learned that a healthy spiritual life is not passive, but active. Neither can it be rushed. It must be patiently consistently cultivated– like cultivating a garden — all the while assuming that God is actively involved in our interior development.

Over many years, through journaling and reading (and keeping journals of what I am reading!) I have slowly compiled a reservoir of reflections that have enabled me to find such ballast amid the world’s storms. Being a writer, my intention has been to consolidate this body of work into a “devotional” book for the purpose of giving readers a tool for initiating and cultivating their own inner journeys. Instead, I have chosen to use the publishing platform of Patreon to bring this about. My reasons for this are varied, though simple and mundane. First and foremost, I possess a sincere desire to publish these readings for the benefit of those who desire a regulated tool for spiritual reflection. (Those who support this account receive contemplative readings directly in their email inbox three days a week.) Second, rather than go through the standard publishing regimen charting books sales and royalties, I created my own publishing track to make this work available through a payment system of modest tiers. (For example, two readings a week are priced at $2.00 a month.) The Patreon platform is designed for creators — visual artists, musicians, poets and people like me (in this case), a writer of spiritual reflections — the kind of people who never make much money. (I don’t anticipate hitting the jackpot through my Patreon page.) However, the apostle Paul wrote when addressing the question of whether or not apostles should receive financial help, he said simply, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain . . . . The worker deserves his wages” (1 Tim 5:18). 

The great spiritual leader, Henri Nouwen wrote, “The man or woman who has developed this solitude of heart is no longer pulled apart by the most divergent stimuli of the surrounding world but is able to perceive and understand this world from a quiet inner center.” Whether or not you choose to explore the modest offering of my readings on Patreon, it is my firm belief that any such spiritual explorations and a regular pattern of cultivating inner ballast will be the salvation of your soul, and possibly of the world.

thinquill

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