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

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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 […]

Want to learn more about the great mystical traditions of the world? If so, then please join me for this evening class through Emory University Continuing Education here in Atlanta. The class begins Monday, October 3, 2016 and runs for five weeks. We’ll be reading Andrew Harvey’s The Essential Mystics: The Soul’s Journey Into Truth. Hope to see you there!

Date: October 3, 2016—October 31, 2016
Time: 07:00-09:00 p.m.
Event: Introduction to World Mysticism
Topic: World Mysticism
Sponsor: Emory Continuing Education
Venue: Emory Continuing Education
Location: Atlanta, GA
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

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

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

Tools Matter

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'

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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 […]

One of the highlights of my year is the “Wisdom of the Christian Mystics” retreat that I co-facilitate each year with my dear friend, the Trappist monk Br. Elias Marechal (author of Tears of An Innocent God).
This year, Brother Elias and I will be leading this retreat at Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, GA, September 16-18.
If you want to go, call now — it usually fills up weeks in advance — and put your name on the waiting list if it’s already full. Sometimes people cancel at the last minute.

Date: September 16, 2016—September 18, 2016
Event: Wisdom of the Christian Mystics Retreat
Topic: Wisdom of the Christian Mystics
Sponsor: Monastery of the Holy Spirit
(770) 760-0959
Venue: Monastery of the Holy Spirit Retreat House
(770) 760-0959
Location: 2625 Highway 212 SW
Conyers, GA 30094
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

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

Joyful Sanctity

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

Happiness and simplicity often go together....

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 […]

I love Holy Cross Monastery in New York, and am happy to be returning there on Labor Day weekend.

Our retreat theme will be “Praying with the English Mystics: Wisdom for Today from Julian of Norwich and The Cloud of Unknowing.”

The retreat is open to the public. Come and enjoy the beautiful grounds, the serenity of the river, the ethereal music of the monks’ prayer, and our shared reflection on the mystical spirituality of the middle ages.

Date: September 2, 2016—September 4, 2016
Event: Praying with the English Mystics: Wisdom for Today from Julian of Norwich and The Cloud of Unknowing
Topic: Praying with the English Mystics
Sponsor: Holy Cross Monastery
(845) 384-6660
Venue: Holy Cross Monastery
(845) 384-6660
Location: 1615 Route 9W
West Park, NY 12493
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

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

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

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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?

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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...

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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

Path-to-Peace

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 […]

I love being part of the Spirituality Immersion Experience that is offered about twice a year through Columbia Seminary’s Center for Lifelong Learning. As usual, I’ll present two talks on the history of Christian spirituality, focussing on the monastic tradition and on spirituality since the Reformation. But the program is much more than just me! If you’d like a nourishing program combining prayer, journaling, small group conversation, and insight into the riches of Biblical and Christian spirituality, then I hope you’ll come to this program. I look forward to seeing you there.

Date: August 4, 2016—August 7, 2016
Event: Spiritual Immersion Experience
Sponsor: Columbia Theological Seminary
Venue: Columbia Theological Seminary
Location: Decatur, GA
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

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