Feeling the Voice of God

Some time ago, one of my jobs was to ghostwrite for the company’s CEO—an authentic character of a man with a thick Buffalo and the patience of pitbull. I’d compose newsletters, emails, columns, even journal articles and book chapters, as him, usually from scratch. At first, I might spend as much as 15 minutes with him for a three-paragraph letter or the idea for an article. He’d brain-dump, and I’d record as much of his language as I possibly could before he decided the meeting was over. I’d cut and paste it, edit it, rearrange it and fill in the gaps. Then the drafts would go back and forth until I’d gotten his voice right.  Continue reading “Feeling the Voice of God”

A Song of Quiet Trust

Psalm 131

God, my heart isn’t lifted up
   my eyes aren’t raised too high;
I don’t occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me. 
But I’ve calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in God
now and forevermore.

A Song of Quiet Trust

For most of my Christian life, the Psalms didn’t leave any impression on me. The first encounter I can truly recall with Psalm 131, was in a long season of desperately seeking to hear from God and be comforted. The thought of not raising my eyes was upsetting. The idea of being a “weaned child” with respect to God (separated from the milk) was unsettling. Continue reading “A Song of Quiet Trust”

That Which is Done: The Art of Interiorization

‘Part of the secret of monastic living is moving the emphasis from the objective productivity of what is done to the subjective dispositions in which it is done.’
—Michael Casey, OCSO

Every morning I wake up, I nearly hit my head on a ceiling of all that I might want to accomplish. They accumulate at different heights. Hanging just above me as I sleep is the rent check I still need to deliver. At sitting-up height are two of the articles I could have written by now, which are in the shadows of all the articles I know I can and so probably should compose at some point. Looming on top are the books I want to publish one day. And filling the spaces between are the emails, the chores, the returned phone calls—and my daily devotional practices, to be generous. Continue reading “That Which is Done: The Art of Interiorization”

How We Discern, Part 2: Indifference and Freedom

Whether we’re discerning between alternatives or just discerning a way forward, whatever it’s about, the first thing is always to keep the first thing the first thing. That’s our initial step of identifying our principle and foundation (p&f), or, the big ultimate “why”—as in, “Why does it matter that we discern this well?”—or the big ultimate “what”—as in, “What do we want beneath everything else?” St Ignatius of Loyola identifies this as the core human vocation: to praise and serve Gød. You might personalize it further. Either way, we’re not done with Step One simply by identifying our p&f. We need to make it our p&f actually. That’s where a concept called “indifference” comes in, but it bears explanation. Continue reading “How We Discern, Part 2: Indifference and Freedom”

How We Discern, Part 1: Our Foundation

I’ve been frequently asked since beginning my journey in spiritual direction and as a spiritual director what “discernment” is. I’ll unthinking drop it into conversation as an assumed concept, or someone will spy the cover of some book I’m buried in about discernment. Etymology, the origin of a word, can sometimes provide us a blind lead about its meaning. But in this case, I always return to the root of “discernment” for its clearest explanation. Like all good English words (and there aren’t many), it’s based in Latin: discenere (dis [apart] + cenere [to sift]), literally, “to sift apart.” Continue reading “How We Discern, Part 1: Our Foundation”

Review: Imaginative Prayer

I’ve long held a personal axiom — never judge a book by its cover; judge it by its table of contents. Let this be true especially for Jared Boyd’s Imaginative Prayer: A Yearlong Guide for Your Child’s Spiritual Formation, with a caveat: the table of contents is more than a table of contents. It’s a poem — literally — a “credal poem” that your child is invited not only to memorize with you but to experience through playful and grace-filled encounters with Gød. This, for me, is so much of the genius of the work, beyond being in all respects an extraordinarily practical and in many ways revolutionary resource for parents. Continue reading “Review: Imaginative Prayer”