When we trust God more, we can afford to relax our self-centered worried efforts to take care of ourselves. In the same movement, we trust our own preconscious feelings and intuitions more. It becomes easier to see the good side of things. They are more available to us, anyway, once we have learned (by meditation or in some other way) to empty the mind and senses of surface strivings and noisy trivia. We have “sold” what usually fragments our attention and divides our energy, so that we can “buy” the beckoning field where our real treasure is to be found.

Carolyn Gratton
The Art of Spiritual Guidance (New York: Crossroad, 1992), p. 105

The Future of This Blog

Where I hope to take it in 2018

Hello friends! I hope 2017 has been good to you. This year I’ve survived two tropical storms (an unnamed one when we were vacationing in Florida in June, and then the remnants of Hurricane Irma when it blew through Atlanta a few weeks ago), did some nifty traveling (check out the pictures from our trip […]

I’m pleased to announce that September 15-17, 2017 I will be returning to Holy Cross Monastery in West Park NY, where I’ll be leading a retreat called “Embracing Deep Rest in Turbulent Times.” Here’s the description from the Holy Cross Monastery website:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27). These words from Jesus represent a profound promise — and speak to a need in the human heart which has never been greater. Everyone knows that these are challenging times; how do we live in the peace and courage that Jesus promises us? This retreat, which blends restful silence with nurturing reflections on themes such as rest, serenity, and courage, is designed to celebrate the peace that comes from God: a peace that provides lasting rest, but which also impels us to make our world a better place.

To register for this retreat, or for more information, please call Holy Cross Monastery at 845-384-6660.

The fee for this weekend retreat (includes programming, lodging for two nights, and six meals) is $375 per person. An $80 deposit reserves your space.

Date: September 15, 2017—September 17, 2017
Event: Contemplative Retreat at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY
Topic: Embracing Deep Rest in Turbulent Times
Sponsor: Holy Cross Monastery
845-384-6660
Venue: Holy Cross Monastery
845-384-6660
Location: West Park, NY
USA
Public: Public
More Info: Click here for more information.

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

I’m returning to one of my favorite Retreat Centers — The Rock Hill Oratory in South Carolina, near Charlotte NC — to lead a retreat from Sunday, June 11 through Wednesday, June 14. Our theme will be “Praying with the Saints and Mystics.” It will be a time for silence and reflection at one of the loveliest/most peaceful sites in the southeast.

One of life’s most important questions is simply this: “How can I draw closer to God?” Traditionally this means learning how to pray. Christian tradition is blessed by a history filled with advice and instruction on how to draw closer to God. We will explore different approaches to Christian prayer, grounded in the wisdom of the saints and mystics, and presented in a practical, down to earth way. We will pray together, learn together, spend time in silence, and hopefully have some fun as well.

To learn more about this retreat or to register, click here.

Date: June 11, 2017—June 14, 2017
Event: "Visions of Faith" Retreat in Rock Hill, SC: Praying with the Saints and Mystics
Topic: Praying with the Saints and Mystics
Sponsor: The Rock Hill Oratory
803-327-2097
Venue: The Rock Hill Oratory
803-327-2097
Location: 434 Charlotte Avenue
Rock Hill, SC 29730
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

This eight-week class will feature exploration into the lives and teachings of great mystics out of the Jesuit tradition, including St. Ignatius of Loyola, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and more! We’ll look at a different Jesuit mystic each week, and focus on how their teachings can be integrated into our lives today.

Date: January 12, 2017—March 2, 2017
Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Event: Finding God in All Things: Spiritual Wisdom from the Jesuit Mystics
Topic: The Jesuit Mystics
Sponsor: Ignatius House
Venue: Ignatius House
404.255.0503
Location: 6700 Riverside Drive NW
Atlanta, GA 30328
Registration: Click here to register.

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

Has it ever occurred to you that Jesus, the master in the art of prayer, would take the trouble to walk up a hill in order to pray? Like all great contemplatives he was aware that the place in which we pray has an influence on the quality of our prayer.

Anthony de Mello S.J.
Sadhana (New York: Image Books, 1978), p. 68

I am leading a retreat at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit on the weekend of November 11-13 — my last retreat there for 2016! Our theme will be “Praying in a Busy Life.” Here’s the description of the retreat from the monastery’s website:

Life in the 21st century seems busier than ever! We work longer hours, juggle various personal, family, and professional commitments, and it often seems like there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. This retreat is an invitation to take a deep breath, relax, and be still before the presence of God, acknowledging that God is present even when life seems to get in the way. The conferences will include practical tips on how to deepen your prayer life, even in the midst of all the demands and obligations that life throws your way.

Hope to see you there!

Date: November 11, 2016—November 13, 2016
Event: Retreat at Holy Spirit Monastery: "Praying in a Busy Life"
Topic: Praying in a Busy Life
Sponsor: Monastery of the Holy Spirit
770-760-0959
Venue: Monastery of the Holy Spirit Guesthouse
770-760-0959
Location: Conyers, GA 30094
More Info: Click here for more information.

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

Notice how sharp is the hearing and the sense of touch of a blind man. He has lost his faculty of seeing and this has forced him to develop his other faculties of perception. Something similar happens in the mystical world. If we could go mentally blind, so to speak, if we could put a bandage over our mind while we are communicating with God, we would be forced to develop some other faculty for communicating with him—that faculty which, according to a number of mystics, is already straining to move out to him anyway if it were given a chance to develop: the Heart.

Anthony de Mello S.J.
Sadhana: A Way to God (New York: Image Books, 1978), pp. 30-31.

The Flicker of the Screen

Is the Biggest Threat to Contemplation Hiding in Our Pockets?

For if there is no dark night of the soul anymore that isn’t lit with the flicker of the screen, then there is no morning of hopefulness either. The above quotation comes from a fascinating, and I believe vitally important, article by Andrew Sullivan, called I Used to Be A Human Being. Originally published in New […]

One of my editors recently introduced me to Deacon Chris Anderson, a Catholic author from the other side of the country. Deacon Chris is an English professor, a poet, and a spiritual guide. He has a book coming out later this fall on the spirituality of the Examen, called Light When It Comes: Trusting Joy, Facing Darkness, and Seeing God in Everything. Plus he has this delightful video called “Why We Talk About the Weather.” Watch it; you’ll be glad you did.

Know Who You Are: When God Gazes At You, Who Does God See?

A Contemplative Approach to Self-Awareness

In Delphi, in ancient Greece, at a famous pagan temple these words were carved above the entrance: γνῶθι σεαυτόν (Gnothi Seauton), which in English means “Know Yourself.” It’s a universal spiritual principle, not just something the Greeks thought up. For example, in 12-Step Programs, the first step to recovery involves admitting to yourself that addiction has made your […]

The Coptic monks of the desert knew only a single word and a single struggle for designating both the mind and the heart. We tend to separate the mind from the heart. We like to fill the mind; yet, we forget the heart. Or else, we fill the heart with information that should fill the mind. Nevertheless, the two work differently: the mind learns; the heart knows. The mind is educated; the heart believes. The mind is intellectual, speculative; it reads and speaks. The heart is intuitive, mystical; it grows in silence. The two should be held together; and they should be brought together in the presence of God.

John Chryssavgis
In the Heart of the Desert (Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2008), p. 76f.

Books for Beginning the Spiritual Journey

Recommended Reading for Anyone Working Work a Spiritual Director

Here is a list of several books I recommend for spiritual seekers — especially those who are working with a spiritual director or companion. When I recently posted a list of books for spiritual directors, I suppose it only made sense that someone would send along this request: @carlmccolman Thanks for putting this list together! […]

The Mystical Body

Contemplative Spirituality Is More Than Just a 'Head Trip'

How do we embody the contemplative life? And how does the contemplative life make a difference in our bodies (both as individuals and collectively)? Fran and I had dinner the other night with a charming couple named Ray and Lee. We had met Ray a few weeks earlier when I spoke at a UU Church […]

Joyful Sanctity

If you think holiness is dreary, remember that melancholy is not a fruit of the Spirit!

What is the relationship between holiness and joy? A reader named Gordon writes, in response to my concerns about how “experience” can be misunderstood in a spiritual context: I agree with you that experience is not there for entertainment. But given my background in a very dreary fundamentalist religious upbringing, I always find the word […]