Seven Ways the Mystics Inspire Us Today

How the Spirituality of the Past will Craft the Christianity of the Future

Scott Boulevard Baptist Church, Decatur, GA; March 2015. Today this building no longer exists; it was demolished and the land will be developed for retail and/or residential use.

One of my favorite quotations comes from Karl Rahner: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist.” It’s a prophetic statement, from a man who died in 1984. When paired with the demographic realities of the last 30 years (Americans who identify as Christian comprised 85% of the population in 1985, […]

Laudato Si'

Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2015)

The latest encyclical from Pope Francis has garnered a lot of attention, for never has a Pope spoken so forcefully about the duty of Christians — really, of all people — to care for the environment, and to work to stop such problems as global warming. The Pope’s critics whine that he takes a scolding tone in this document, and certainly this is not meant to be a “feel good” read. Even if you are predisposed to agree with Pope Francis, you may find this to be a challenging and sobering read. However, anyone with a clear grasp of Christian spirituality cannot dispute its central thesis: that stewardship for the environment is integrally linked with care for the poorest and most vulnerable members of the human family, and that both social and environmental justice are impossible without a firm spiritual foundation.

I’ll be teaching a class this fall on Monday evenings, September 14 through October 19, on Tears of An Innocent God, a new book by the Trappist monk Elias Marechal. This class will be meeting in a private home in the Morningside Neighborhood of Atlanta. There are a limited number of openings for this class, which will cost $100. The class meets from 6:30 to 8:30 PM for six Monday evenings. For more information, visit the class’s page on Facebook. If you are interested, please contact me using my Contact Page. Thank you.

Date: September 14, 2015—October 19, 2015
Time: 07:00-08:30 p.m.
Event: Silence and the Tears of God
Topic: Taking Your Contemplative Practice Deeper
Venue: Private Residence, Morningside Neighborhood of Atlanta
Location: Atlanta, GA
Public: Private

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

To be honest, I have to say that I see little difference between writing and praying. They both happen in the same place — that core of my person where all the wisdom lives. They both require attentiveness and honesty and an open heart. And the two disciplines — the art and the spirituality — are so intertwined that it’s really inaccurate to refer to them separately. When I tend to the one, the other is helped. When I dismiss either one, both suffer.

Vinita Hampton Wright
The Art of Spiritual Writing: How to Craft Prose That Engages and Inspires Your Readers (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2013), p. 62

How Saint Benedict Can Help Us Grow Spiritually

The Benedictine Vows and a Life of Integrity, Commitment, and Mindfulness

Monk in Stained Glass (Panaspics/Shutterstock)

How can the wisdom of the monastery help folks like you and me — who are not monks or nuns — to grow spiritually? To answer that question, we can begin by looking at The Rule of Saint Benedict. The Rule of Saint Benedict remains one of the great classics of western spirituality, even though it was written […]

Here is a delight: Philip Marshall (I don’t know who he is, but he has a beautiful voice) reads “Immanence,” a poem by Evelyn Underhill. Enjoy!


Journey to the Heart: Christian Contemplation Through the Centuries (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2011)

Beautifully illustrated and featuring a number of noted contributors (Laurence Freeman, Esther de Waal, Kallistos Ware, Shirley du Boulay and Andrew Louth, among others), this narrative history of Christian contemplation looks at the key figures in two millennia of Church history. Starting with Freeman’s thoughtful essay of Jesus as a contemplative teacher, the anthology explores how both the theology and practice of silence and prayer are found in every chapter of Christian tradition. I only have one quibble with the book: the final chapter profiles John Main, begging the question why other prominent late twentieth century contemplatives (like Thomas Keating) were left out.

“Thank you for another day,” I whisper each morning. The sheets on my bed feel good. The light coming through the window is a gift. How do I want to live out this day? I look at the African violet on my windowsill. If I don’t water it, it will die. I see that my spirit is no different. I am beginning to listen a lot. The silence is my water.

Paula D'Arcy
The Gift of the Red Bird (New York: Crossroad, 1996), pp. 58-9

This is a treat I just discovered the other day: an interview with Howard Thurman, an American mystic who not only represents a beautiful embodiment of contemplative faith as expressed in an African-American, Baptist context, but also who was a prophetic voice for justice (and a mentor to one Martin Luther King, Jr.). This is a long video (over two hours) so bookmark this page and come back to it when you have the time to savor Dr. Thurman’s quiet presence, his beautiful voice, and most of all, his palpably deep wisdom.


Gift of the Red Bird: The Story of a Divine Encounter (New York: Crossroad, 1996)

When she was only 27 years old, tragedy struck Paula D’Arcy’s life, when an accident took the life of her husband and her daughter, leaving Paula a young, pregnant widow. She gave birth the following spring and began a profound journey of grief and spiritual discovery, beautifully chronicled in this deceptively simple book. The Gift of the Red Bird is suffused with nature mysticism in the best sense of the word, culminating with a vision-quest retreat in the Texas wilderness, nearly fourteen years after the accident. D’Arcy understands that spiritual writing ultimately tells a love story between the author and God, and she does so beautifully in this short but rich book, filled with longing, insight and wildness. When the author emerges from the wilderness and writes that she has been changed, we the readers can feel it — and perhaps we have been changed as well.

Join me on Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 10:15 AM for an Adult Education class at St. Martin’s in the Fields Episcopal Church, near Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. I will be speaking on “The Church in the Modern World.” See you there.

Date: November 8, 2015
Time: 10:15 - 11:10 a.m.
Event: Adult Education at St. Martin's in the Fields
Topic: The Church in the Modern World
Venue: St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church
Location: 3110 Ashford Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, GA 30319
Public: Public

“God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). Why speed to the heavenly heights and the lowest parts of the earth searching for Him who is with us if we wish to be with Him?

Augustine of Hippo
Selected Writings (New York: Paulist Press, 1984), p. 327

How Mysticism is Unique — and Universal

Provide opportunities to worship in silence.

How, exactly, does Christian mysticism relate to all the other “mysticisms” of the world (Kabbalah, Sufism, Taoism, Vedanta, Zen, etc.)? A reader of this blog writes: I have been reading your Big Book of Christian Mysticism: on page 64 you say that “Ultimately … no absolutely clear distinction can be drawn between Christian and non-Christian […]