The Gift of Being Here

Opening the kitchen door to gauge the morning’s suitability for an early walk, I inhaled quickly and held my breath in reverence and awe. Cool refreshing air slid over me after days of stifling heat. Huge, puffy clouds rose in the bright blue sky. Even from my city view, obstructed by buildings, wires, and trees, […]

Desmond Tutu as Christian Mystic

The three-fold division of Christian mysticism (purgation, illumination, and union) is essential in understanding Desmond Tutu’s life. Purgation exemplifies Tutu’s formation as an institutional church leader, illumination exemplifies Tutu’s role as confessor, and union exemplifies Tutu’s elder years as sage. As Tutu’s life proceeds through purgation, illumination, and union, not only does mysticism describe Tutu’s […]

Prayer as Action: Loving the World

Does it ever seem that not much is happening when you pray? When that’s what it seems like to me, all I need to do is look back at the tracks of prayer in my life. The psalmist’s astonishment and relief at being “lifted out of the miry bog”- in all the bog’s various guises […]

Prayer Changes Us

There is an old saying: be careful what you wish for. In a similar vein we might also be careful how we pray and what we pray for. As we practice contemplative prayer things change and that change is mostly in ourselves. Our ways of seeing and acting in the world become transfigured by divine […]

Experiencing the Beloved Community

Where did life begin for you? My life started in the womb of my maternal grandmother, Margaret Dunnivant Owens, born in 1908 in Giles County, Tennessee, the birthplace of the KKK. Participants in Shalem’s Heart Longings program listened to stories of my grandmother on January 9, 2021, as I honored her legacy, her struggles in […]

Heartless Solitude

“Solitude is the furnace of transformation.” Henri Nouwen The day began at 4:00 am with a five-hour bus trip to the state capital, Albany, NY, with 70 other people. By 10:00 am we joined close to 1,000 other activists, allies, and survivors pursuing justice for those placed in solitary confinement up to 24 hours a […]

Racial Justice and Equity: What is Mine to Do?

by Tom Adams Recently I was at a dinner with a mix of friends and acquaintances. In the midst of the discussion, someone was talking about how to get into Canada without going through Customs. Once you make it, you are a refugee and given all kinds of support and benefits. A friend I didn’t […]

Proximity and Hope

by Mary Van Balen A movie or book can be transforming. For Black History Month, I’m sharing an experience with both. In January, I attended a movie with friends: Just Mercy. Based on the book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, written by Bryan Stevenson and published in 2014, the movie centers around […]

Center Down: Prayer in the Struggle for Justice

Today’s blog is by Jessie Smith “How good it is to center down! To sit quietly and see one’s self pass by!” — “How Good To Center Down,” Howard Thurman Spiritual nurture: essential and pragmatic Walking the three or four blocks to Capitol Hill from Union Station week after week takes its toll. For the […]