Sports as Contemplative Practice

Today’s blog is by Tilden Edwards, the founder of Shalem Institute. Given the Washington Nationals recent World Series win, we were inspired to remember Tilden Edwards’ article on sports as a contemplative practice, written several years ago.  We are thrilled for our hometown team, albeit exhausted from a wild season, and sincerely thank the Astros […]

Discernment as Responsible Love

Article by Rose Mary Dougherty, October 2019 eNews How can I be sure that I am doing God’s will? How do I know that what I discern is really what God wants and not just what I want? How can I be certain that I’ll make the right decision? These are the questions most frequently […]

A Beautiful Soul

Today’s blog is by Ernest Yau. “The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have been used to thinking, in prospering… but in the development of the soul.” (Alexander Solzhenitsyn) As I gaze at him, every inch an ordinary man, I spot something extraordinary: an alive body, a surrendering mind and a loving heart. […]

Embraced by the Earth

Today’s post is by Anita Davidson Memories of my childhood are very incomplete and foggy, except for a few. As Earth Day approaches, one of them keeps recurring and the memory isn’t just in my mind. It’s deeply visceral. So much so that I feel compelled to write it down. I was born and raised […]

April 04, 2018 by Anita Davidson
Categories: Nature and spirituality, Non-duality, and Prayer. Tags: awakening, God, and mountains. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.

For prayer is nothing else
than being on terms of friendship with God.

~Teresa of Ávila

Letting God Lead

Today’s post is by the late Gerald May There is a huge difference, I have found, between acting as if God were leading—which is what I do when my ego tries to decide and implement what God wants—and really letting God lead, which happens when my ego stops filtering and controlling and begins simply to […]

Heart, Mind & Prayer

Today’s post is from the writings of the late Gerald May

Sometimes, instead of praying, I find myself thinking about praying; evaluating how I’m praying, figuring out what is proper or most effective. While these mental gymnastics may be well intentioned, and in fact have some real value as reflections before or after prayer, their effect during prayer is to keep me from really praying. They keep me in the mind and out of the heart.

As long as attention resides solely in the mind, we may spend our time producing scenes in which images of ourselves pray to images of God. This can become very effortful and can lead to a kind of “pretending” at prayer. Real prayer requires at least an attempt to leave such mental struggles and allow our attention to sink deeply, simply, and nakedly into the heart. Bringing attention to the heart is not a complicated process, but it does take real intention and courage. It involves a gentle, steady and wakeful willingness to let ourselves be just who we are before God and to let God be just how God will be within us. This demands no special generation of images. Nothing need be contrived or censored. It is a disarmingly simple matter of relaxing and allowing whatever we really feel, perceive, want or fear to surface as it will. It is seldom easy and sometimes impossible to be successful at this, but the attempt needs to be made.

Love, the Riskiest of Bets

Today’s post is by Juliet Vedral. It has never been difficult for me to say “I love you.” Maybe this is just my personality—I’m an ENFJ so that’s kind of our stock-in-trade. Maybe this is just my cultural background—I’m half-Italian and in some ways all the stereotypes of being passionate, emotive people are true. I hug my friends when I see them. I hug new friends after we’ve first met. It’s not hard for me to show love. Except when it costs me.

I am now over four months into a relationship that has gone from a casual, “why not?” set-up to serious conversations about serious, life-altering matters. I’ve discovered that the rules of dating are primarily defensive strategies, the cousins of the job interview technique. You carefully edit out the bad to highlight the good. Weaknesses are re-cast to appear as strengths, making you appear wonderfully vulnerable (but not high-maintenance or a mess). Above all, you guard your heart and do not give it away to just anyone.

But the strategies that work in dating will kill a relationship.

Every Moment Invites Us

Thomas Keating says that God’s presence is a gift, closer to us than breathing, than thinking, and even closer than consciousness itself. You don’t need a silent church pew or a remote holy isle to access it. God’s presence, love and grace, are already there waiting to greet you wherever you are. Pausing to notice your breath can be a great tool to remember this–you always have your breath with you.

What Does it Mean to Be Beloved of God?

It happened at the last day—the last hour really—of the 2013 Shalem YALLI kick-off retreat (Young Adult Life and Leadership Initiative). As our ragtag group of contemplatives wrote down on paper the blockages we sensed to living lives connected to the Spirit, we placed them in a bowl. We were then asked to come up, take a few of the slips of paper, hold them up to God, then return them to the bowl with a prayer: “I am the Beloved of God.”

This snarky, snide former Pastors’ Kid (yes, that’s two pastors) rolled the eyes of her heart. What did that prayer even mean? But then that question tugged at me: what does it mean to be the Beloved of God? It seemed to be the question I had always been asking. Could that really be true of me?

I’ve always loved John’s gospel the most, primarily because of his audacity to define himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” What a claim, right? Yet it seemed the journey that the Spirit was inviting me to take as we left the retreat was to be able to claim for myself, for my core identity, “the Beloved of God.”

Flash forward 10 months. I am on a work retreat with the messaging team and Anne Grizzle, my mentor through Shalem’s YALLI program. I had suggested that one of my projects to incorporate contemplative practices in the workplace was to have this team take some time to learn how best to listen to the Spirit and each other. As we did some listening and discernment, I shared about my life and how I felt as though I have been on a pilgrimage in the darkness and not sure to what end.

To my surprise, two of my colleagues said that they believed I was “blessed” and that perhaps the season I was in was less about me and more for others. It was not what I’d hoped to hear. Still, it struck a chord in me—as in, it caused all the notes that had been playing in my head and my heart for months to harmonize.

Henri Nouwen, in his book, Life of the Beloved, writes that being the Beloved of God means that we are taken, blessed, broken, and then given to others. As Jesus was blessed, broken, and given to us, so are we to the world. It is at once a beautiful and terrible thing to claim about oneself.

As I contemplate certain areas of my life that feel broken, I recognize that perhaps I’m missing the “slow work of God” because change isn’t happening fast enough. Perhaps the challenge of being the Beloved is having the eyes to see that this life is about God and God’s work in this world.