Dinnerless Camels

Dinnerless Camels Saturday after the Resurrection – April 18, 2020 Transformation does not happen by an act of the will. Responding to an altar call is important for some, but is certainly not the end as much as a new beginning. Benchmark life-events may help nurture us, but one-time events do not have the force to shift the deeply ingrained patterns within us. There are no quick fixes in the Christian spiritual life, no short-cuts to an adult spirituality. Rather, we must take care to feed the inner self, to nourish the soul, to give care to that which is at our center, for this inner self will emerge in the world as a transforming presence. We cannot expect ourselves to live differently in the world if we do not attend to this inward dimension of life. For example, in order not to be overwhelmed by a global pandemic, we must be intentional about ingesting spiritual nourishment that will give us resources to keep us from being overwhelmed by the pandemic flood. We have to ea

Original Purpose

Original Purpose Friday after the Resurrection – April 17, 2020 Each person has a different charism, a different grace given by God to animate our lives. Think of this charism or grace as your original purpose, the design for your creation, your truest vocation. Considering your charism or unique grace may not lead you to fame or financial security, but it will enable you to fill out the purpose for which you were created. Your calling in life is not to be like anyone else, but to be fully yourself, fully the person you were intended to be. At the end of the excerpt below, Underhill says, “All have access to direct sources of spiritual strength in prayer, quietude, communion, and spiritual reading and will not do their best work without these things.” Indeed, prayer, quietude, communion, and spiritual reading are but a few of the ways we begin to come to a sense of our original purpose, our most authentic vocation. Now the three-fold Ignatian question: “What have I done

The Sunshine School of Piety

The Sunshine School of Piety Thursday after the Resurrection – April 16, 2020 The popular prophets of contemporary culture are not those who tell the truth – which is the hallmark of a true prophet – but those who say what their followers want to hear. Religious leaders, political leaders, leaders of commerce . . . most anyone can fall into this kind of cheerleading . . . another version of dressing up a pig in lipstick. We notice this all around us, even in the midst of a global pandemic . . . some who say things are not really that bad (try selling that to 28,593 families in the United States and 138,487 families around the world who have lost loved ones to COVID-19) or who advocate sacrificing people’s health and lives for the good of economic factors (Capitalism as the greatest good!). In the excerpt below, Evelyn Underhill uses the ominous phrase, “ the sunshine school of piety ,” calling it a “charmingly optimistic outlook.” How apropos is that to our current times? G

The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home Wednesday after the Resurrection – April 15, 2020 Spiritual growth does not come in a moment . . . in a flash of insight . . . or by responding to an altar call . . . or in an inspiring conference . . . or even in an act of kindness that creates good feelings within us. Spiritual growth is a long, long journey. We grow day-by-day, moment-by-moment, the slow accumulation of long-term openness to God’s work within us. I’ve known persons who expected transformation to come in a flash, and who quickly grew frustrated when they did not get the immediate results they expected. The spiritual life is a journey of our entire lifetime. We never come to the end of it. This is the work God is doing within us slowly, moment-by-moment. In the excerpt below, Evelyn Underhill talks about spiritual growth. We talked first of growth and then of service, but we must not divide them too sharply, for the two go together from the beginning. In a good nursery, children are ta

The Stillpoint Within

The Stillpoint Within Tuesday after the Resurrection – April 14, 2020 We are challenged, currently, to be creative, to find different ways to love people. Often, since we have been distanced from one another by the coronavirus threat, we have been told that for right now, we best love people by staying away from them. (And all the introverts say, “I’ve been telling you this for years!”) We make phone calls . . . we use FaceTime . . . try to serve, while maintaining proper distancing. And we pray. We pray for people, if only by whispering the names of those we know who are in need . . . speaking aloud the names of hospitals . . . saying the names of cities and towns that are overwhelmed . . . We meditate . . . we find some contemplative practice to keep us centered and anchored . . . we quietly write poetry . . . we take out a sketchpad and draw or use pastels to doodle or splash some watercolors on a page . . . we regularly drop anchor through a meditative prayer practice (

The Swinging Pendulum

The Swinging Pendulum Monday after the Resurrection – April 13, 2020 During these days of physical distancing in public and separating ourselves from others in the run of daily life, we can feel out of balance. I know there are mental health concerns related to being socially apart from others over an extended period of time. But also as I hear more and more about how uncomfortable people are over the upset of routines and the forced aloneness of staying at home, I wonder if these days of enforced-slowing-down are not a corrective to our overly busy, frantic lives. I’ve often thought that when our lives are out of balance, when the pendulum has swung too far in one direction or another for us, the corrective sometimes comes in an exaggerated swing back in the other direction. An exaggerated swing that seems excessive may serve only to bring us back to the center. Evelyn Underhill quotes the 14th century Flemish mystic, Jan van Ruysbroeck: Ministering to the world without i

The Pattern Includes Resurrection

The Pattern Includes Resurrection Resurrection Sunday – April 12, 2020 Resurrection follows death. Every time. It is the immutable, God-given pattern for all of life. Death is not the end. Life is the end. In John 11, Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, goes through a litany of titles for Jesus. Jesus tells her straight-out that he is the resurrection and the life. Then he asks, “Do you believe this ?” He is not asking if she believes in resurrection as an idea or as a theological proposition. He is asking if she believes that resurrection and life are God’s established pattern for the world. Affirming Jesus’ resurrection is not enough. Rather are you willing to enter into this rhythm of birth, life, death, and new life for yourself? This is not only new life. It is also real love. English mystic Evelyn Underhill wrote a great deal about spirituality in the last century. She taught both significant religious leaders and ordinary lay persons with a simplicity that I find c