“Practicing to be a contemplative," says Zen priest Sensei Zenju, "you’re learning to be embodied and to be boundless at the same time.”
In the private journals of contemplative thinker Thomas Merton, Sophronia Scott found guidance for how to live in these fraught times.
A contemplative Catholic nun touches the world through prayer.
Merton has been my spiritual companion, but as a Black woman, I have questions for him.
We have a responsiblity to agitate for justice, but we can't lose our love for the human soul and its dignity in the midst of that work.
The founder of the Spiritual Directors of Color Network talks about the importance of contemplative spirituality to social change.
Centering prayer persists when I am believing or disbelieving, when I feel “close” to God or far away.
God is flying to tell me something. On a recent Saturday I worked beyond the point of exhaustion. Not to. Beyond. Never mind exactly on what. I like to think it was for a good cause, though that is debatable and not the point here. The point is: I so believed outcome x needed to happen that I was willing to do violence to myself to make it happen.
It’s been 100 years since your birth and almost 75 since you entered the abbey. You died with your story unfinished.
I staggered through my house that morning, knowing I was out of coffee. I took multiple trips around the house looking for my shoes, finally settled for outrageously large climbing boots, then took multiple trips looking for my keys. I finally jumped on my motorcycle—adrenaline is a good substitute for endorphins when you get older—and broke many laws getting to the local caffeine clinic. Upon arriving I had the sinking realization that my man-purse was not in my backpack. At this point all my training as a contemplative was out the window.
I slid off the trail and let my daypack fall from my shoulder to the duff below. For the first time in 15 weeks, my soul felt like it was loose, not lassoed by its feet and dragged behind its own horse. I had been so wrapped up in graduate school and work that I had lost touch with my sense of feeling alive, of being connected to anything besides production.
Years ago I was very good at hope. I could hope for a more celebrated position, flatter abs, or to cross the finish of Ironman. I was also good at setting goals to achieve these ends: I put my head down and knocked them off. The elation of accomplishing these goals and garnering a little attention for my efforts was a great high, but unfortunately it did not usually last long.
What is it about Western culture that makes it so difficult to taste God? Why would we rather prove propositions than experience the holy?
All deserts are silent, harsh and beautiful. Sinai adds its history of God’s dealings with humanity. It’s a holy place where the veil is lifted.