The Christian Century, February 19, 2014
Read the main article on a congregation's contemplative practices.
Susan’s Book Recommendation
Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
This month, both Fr. Nick and I, offer you books that might feed your soul. Many of you are familiar with the important work of Pastor Bonhoeffer, a renown Christian minister who resisted the Nazi movement of terror during World War II. Written from his experience of leading an underground seminary, Life Together is a must-read, at some point in your Christian walk. Bishop Russell is using this book as his premise for the upcoming Diocesan Convention in February 2019. Here, Bonhoeffer, gives us practical advice on how we might life together in community to be sustained for whatever life throws at us, the good and the bad. He demonstrates how critical community is; how life together is essential for growing in Christ and truly living. This is a thin book – easily read - and one you might consider giving as gifts to those who are looking for a book that satiates our hunger for the fullest life in Christ.
Nick’s book recommendation:
Life in Christ: Practicing Christian Spirituality. Published in 2018,
Rev. Julia Gatta, shares some of the foundational wisdom she has culled from a lifetime of serving in the Anglican tradition. She does this by grounding it in the great heritage we have received from the English mystics. Applying her years of experience as pastor and spiritual director, combined with her study of the spiritual wisdom of the past, she explores common Christian practices and their underlying theology through an Episcopal lens. In the tradition of Esther de Waal, Martin Smith, and Martin Thornton, with particular reference to scripture, The Book of Common Prayer, and the wisdom of the Christian spiritual tradition, she illuminates methods readers may already be practicing and provides insight and guidance to ones that may be new to them. Mother Julia is the beloved Professor of Pastoral Theology at The School of Theology, Sewanee, TN. The corpus of her work is truly essential reading.
Mirabai Bush, a meditation and mindfulness teacher who leads Google’s mindfulness training, “Search Inside Yourself,” pointed us to an illustration of contemplative practices, which shows the breadth of meditation and mindfulness within traditions. Although this list isn’t comprehensive, it does open up one’s imagination about how these disciplines take root and manifest themselves in our lives.
The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society goes on to explain:
"On the Tree of Contemplative Practices, the roots symbolize the two intentions that are the foundation of all contemplative practices. The roots of the tree encompass and transcend differences in the religious traditions from which many of the practices originated, and allow room for the inclusion of new practices that are being created in secular contexts.
The branches represent different groupings of practices. For example, Stillness Practices focus on quieting the mind and body in order to develop calmness and focus. Generative Practices may come in many different forms but share the common intent of generating thoughts and feelings, such as thoughts of devotion and compassion, rather than calming and quieting the mind. (Please note that such classifications are not definitive, and many practices could be included in more than one category.)
Because this illustration cannot possibly include all contemplative practices, we offer a free download of a blank Tree that you can customize to include your own practices. Activities not included on the tree (including those which may seem mundane, such as gardening or eating) may be understood to be contemplative practices when done with the intent of cultivating awareness and wisdom.”
Seeing these classifications, I’m left wondering what else in our experiences might be part of this tree. Here’s a blank tree for your own practices. Fill it in and, if you’re willing, share it with us and others.
BY TRENT T. GILLISS (@TRENTGILLISS), FOUNDING EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF ON BEING STUDIOS