I’m teaching a new class for the Emory Continuing Education Creative Writing Progam this fall. It’s a blogging class — with an emphasis on how to write effective and engaging blog posts. It’s ideal for anyone with a blog, whether it’s a business blog or a more personal (or spiritual!) project. If you live in Atlanta and want to explore blogging with me, I hope to see you there.

Event: Blogging: Effective Writing for Your Personal or Professional Blog

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 […]

Before I can say “God Himself is mine,” I have to let go of everything but God himself. The familiar picture I may have of God is not God himself, and I will have to leave that image behind in the desert. God as he is in himself is wholly Other than I can imagine him, is transcendent Mystery. Likewise, my experience of God, whether in prayer or in my brothers and sisters, is not God himself. And so I will have to let go of my familiar forms of praying and experiencing God as I journey through the desert. I can learn to trust him whom I do not name or experience, trust him because I love him.

Charles Cummings OCSO
Spirituality and the Desert Experience (Denville, NJ: DImension Books, 1978), p. 118.

Recommended Reading for Spiritual Accompaniment

Books for the Ministry of Spiritual Direction and Soul Friendship

Spiritual direction, also known as spiritual accompaniment, is an essential ministry for anyone seeking to embrace contemplative Christianity. Not only is it a vital and beautiful ministry to receive, but many find meaning and value in providing this kind of soul friendship and guidance to others. Recently a reader of this blog wrote to me and asked, “Do […]

The Place of Joy in Christian Spirituality

Is it Okay to Enjoy a Deeper Prayer Life?

What is the relationship between prayer and joy? If we enjoy our prayer, does that mean we are avoiding the hard work of spirituality (which, at least in Christian terms, is meant to make us holy, not to entertain us)? I had an interesting little exchange on Facebook the other day, when a reader, who […]

Reviving an old page from my first blog

Warning: If you love spiritual books, this could be hazardous to your wallet...

Reading books about the spiritual life can be a substitute for actually devoting time each day to prayer. So if you have to choose between prayer and reading, make prayer your priority. Nevertheless, one of the best ways to nurture an ongoing prayer practice is to devote some time each day to reading nurturing and […]

Contemplation and Peace

A Few Thoughts for Our Troubled Times

A Facebook friend shared with me that she has been “thinking about contemplative prayer as a resource for peacemaking or for community building.” Especially given the horrors in Orlando this past weekend, perhaps this is something we all need to be thinking about. Is contemplative prayer a meaningful tool for fostering reconciliation? Can it foster peace […]

What is Contemplation?

It's Hard to Put a Wordless Spiritual Practice Into Words

What is contemplation? Unfortunately, answering this question is tricky — for contemplation is like some other words in the English language, such as love or success or happiness.  In other words, different people use it to mean different things. Recently a reader named Daniel sent me this message: I’ve been gradually learning about contemplative spirituality for a couple of years now.  Throughout this […]

Georgia Author of the Year!

"Befriending Silence" wins in the Inspirational/Religious Category

This past Saturday evening I received a lovely honor. The Georgia Writers’ Association selected me as a “Georgia Author of the Year” in the Inspirational/Religious category for Befriending Silence. The Georgia Author of the Year Awards is the oldest literary awards ceremony in the southeastern United States, started by the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists in […]

The spiritual life is not a set of exercises appended to our ordinary routine. It is a complete reordering of our values and our prioirities and our lives. Spirituality is not just a matter of joining the closest religious community or parish committee or faith-sharing group. Spirituality is that depth of soul that changes our lives and focuses our efforts and leads us to see the world differently than we ever did before.

Joan Chittister
The Rule of Benedict (New York: Crossroad, 2010), p. 247.

Charismatic Mysticism

What is the Relationship Between Gifts of the Holy Spirit and Contemplative Prayer?

“Do Gifts of the Spirit, especially those like tongues, have any connection with mysticism? Historically, theologically, experientially, in connection with the Divine… If so, in what way, and if not, why not?” A few months back, I asked folks on Facebook if they had any questions they would like me to address on my blog. Here is […]