Smiling as spiritual discipline

Smiling as spiritual discipline

What if a smile could be the expression of our love for God and a means of spiritual growth?  Or, in more prosaic terms, what if spiritual disciplines lists included smiling? It’s an odd idea somehow, isn’t it?  But the nun, Therese of Lisieux, wrote in a poem: ‘For Him I love I wish my … Continue reading

When prayer is still about me

When prayer is still about me

In a nutshell, this is what has been so hard about prayer lately: …if prayer is the mutual presence of persons, then the preparation will be to find that point where I am most available as a person. Iain Matthew, The Impact of God Present to God and to my self.  The splitting of the personal … Continue reading

Passion’s desolation

Passion’s desolation

(The source of all quotations in this post is Ross Collings, John of the Cross.) It is precisely the agonizing inability to grasp any conception of Jesus or his Father as an illuminating object of…prayer which constitutes the truest experience of faith ‘in the Passion of Christ’ – that is, subjectively, from within the redemptive … Continue reading

Dwell with Fire and live

Dwell with Fire and live

Day breathed, shadows fled and heart sealed with flashes of a fire the very flame of the Lord.  Stood before Fire and lived. Now nearly six years since.  And contract made that day, sealed with water and wine and oil.  Contract irreversible, though small-print not then read. Stood before Fire and lived. So when he … Continue reading

Until…

Until…

Consciously claiming the desire to…be in or with something almost compels us into control. Gerald May, The Awakened Heart. I want to be with him.  I have tasted and I have seen.  And now I echo those words: to die is gain. I don’t want to live in shadowlands where presence is absence and Word sheer … Continue reading

I don’t know how to stop

I don’t know how to stop

I built myself a nice house of prayer.  In fact, I was admiring it a couple of months back.   Not, I hasten to add, because of pride.  (Or, at least, not particularly?!)  It was more gladness that I seemed to have a functioning shelter again after God detonated the last one.  A controlled explosion is … Continue reading

As watchmen for the morning

As watchmen for the morning

The experiences of acedia and of dark night are similar.  So similar, in fact, that I have spent years wrestling to tell them apart.  And as the time and sand have banked up around me, breathing now getting harder, I am come closer to naming their difference.  I am come closer to naming their difference … Continue reading

Learning to breathe

Learning to breathe

Those who know God most deeply have relearned the soul’s natural language of prayerful attentiveness to the divine. David Benner, Opening to God Twenty years, give or take, after becoming a Christian, God enrolled me in a school of prayer.  And, to be honest, it’s been hard. Harder than the PhD that preceded it.  Which, … Continue reading

Cloistered heart

Cloistered heart

Cloister. One word in summer 2019.  And with it an entire season circumscribed. Not an evangelical kind of season, four to six months tops.  But four years now.  And, still to come, perhaps more.  The promised ploughing-under, sabbatical of desolation for all the years gone before. Cloistered heart. And when he said it, I liked … Continue reading

The next faithful step

The next faithful step

Our goal as Christian leaders is not to put together a ministry like it is a prepackaged bicycle.  Our goal is to help God’s people grow…  If our goal is to help people grow, then we cannot follow the lay-out-the-steps model of leadership.  What then can a Christian leader do? Scott Cormode, The Innovative Church I’m … Continue reading