This summer I reread Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison in Fortress Press's extraordinary new edition of his collected works. Letters and Papers
remains almost endlessly suggestive and stimulating theologically. But
in this reading I noticed how often the imprisoned Lutheran pastor
United Methodist pastor Elise Erikson Barrett writes for women who have experienced miscarriage, pastors who help couples grapple with it and anyone who has helped a friend, spouse or relative grieve.
I used to think my grandfather had a strange affliction. He not only
read the obituaries, but he kept a log of the deaths of relatives,
friends and people he knew. If there were ever any questions about who
died when, he’d retrieve his notebook and give us the facts.
Security and risk are nothing new. Today's biblical texts deal not with
stocks and bonds exactly, but with living in the real circumstances of
a difficult and uncertain world while also accepting the possibility of
good, of help and support, comfort and security.
When he’s at home, Rowan Williams, former archbishop of Canterbury, begins each day with a short meditative walk, or sometimes with some slow prostrations, followed by 30 to 40 minutes of sitting on a low stool to repeat the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner”). Usually he repeats the words silently, saying them while breathing out. “Over the years increasing exposure to and engagement with the Buddhist world in particular has made me aware of practices not unlike the ‘Jesus Prayer’ and introduced me to disciplines that further enforce the stillness and physical focus that the prayer entails,” says Williams (New Statesman, July 8).