Becoming Wise Fools

February 26th, 2021 by JDVaughn No comments »

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Those who will lead into the future will have some hard-won wisdom. We might call them the “holy fools.” By the holy fool I mean what the Bible and mythic literature have always presented as the “savior.” They are persons who are happily, but not naïvely, innocent of everything the rest of us take for granted. They alone can trust and live the new work of God because they are not protecting the past by control (conservatives) or reacting against the past by fixing (liberals). Both of these groups are too invested in their own understanding to let go and let God do something new on earth.

According to the pattern, the wise fools are always formed in the testing ground of exile when the customary and familiar are taken away and they must go deeper and much higher for wisdom. As a result, they no longer fit or belong among their own. Yet paradoxically, they alone can point the way to the “promised land” or the “new Jerusalem.” Conventional wisdom is inadequate, even if widely held by good people.

I believe that there are two necessary paths enabling us to move toward wisdom: a radical journey inward and a radical journey outward. For far too long we’ve confined people to a sort of security zone, a safe “lukewarm” midpoint, which the Bible warns us against, as to the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:15‒16). We’ve called them neither to a radical path inward, in other words, to contemplation, nor to a radical path outward, that is, to commitment on the social issues of their time. We prefer to stay in a secure middle position, probably because these two great teachers, the inner and the outer way, both cause pain. Failure and falling short are the best teachers; success has virtually nothing to teach us on the spiritual path.

It is Paul, one of the “holy fools” of our Christian faith, isolated but enthralled by a vision of universal Gospel, who can say, “Make no mistake about it: if you think you’re wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then you must learn to be a fool before you can really be wise” (1 Corinthians 3:18). The holy fool is the last stage of the wisdom journey. It is the individual who knows their dignity and therefore does not have to polish or protect it. It is the man or woman who has true authority and does not have to defend it or anyone else’s authority. It is the child of God who has met the One who watches over sparrows and fashions galaxies, and therefore can comfortably be a child of God.  They and they alone can be trusted to proclaim the Reign of God.

Moving beyond Conventional Wisdom

February 25th, 2021 by Dave No comments »

Here are the three further “ways of knowing” that can allow us to access greater wisdom:

Images: Imaginal knowing is the only way that the unconscious can move into consciousness. It happens through fantasy, through dreams, through symbols, where all is “thrown together” (sym-ballein in Greek). It happens through pictures, events, and well-told stories. It happens through poetry, where well-chosen words create an image that, in turn, creates a new awareness—that was in us already. We knew it, but we didn’t know it. We must be open to imaginal knowing because the work of transformation will not be done logically, rationally, or cerebrally. Our intellectual knowing alone is simply not adequate to the greatness and the depth of the task.

Aesthetic: In some ways, aesthetic knowing is the most attractive, but I think it’s often the least converting. Art in all its forms so engages us and satisfies us that many go no deeper. Still, aesthetic knowing is a central and profound way of knowing. I’ve seen art lead to true changes of consciousness. I have seen people change their lives in response to a novel, a play, a piece of music, or a movie like Dead Man Walking. Their souls were prepared, and God got in through the right metaphor at the right time. They saw their own stories clarified inside of a larger story line.

Epiphany: The last way of knowing, which I’d think religion would prefer and encourage, is epiphanic knowing. An epiphany is a parting of the veil, a life-changing manifestation of meaning, the eureka of awareness of self and the Other. It is the radical grace which we cannot manufacture or orchestrate. There are no formulas which ensure its appearance. It is always a gift, unearned, unexpected, and larger than our present life. We cannot manufacture epiphanies. We can only ask for them, wait for them, expect them, know they are given, keep out of the way, and thank Someone afterward.

I have to imagine that Jesus’ consciousness was developed by all these ways of knowing. Scholar Christopher Pramuk describes how Jesus engaged his listeners and followers in ways far beyond their minds. He writes:

When Jesus of Nazareth prefaced his enigmatic sayings with the words, “let those with eyes to see, see, let those with ears to hear, hear,” scholars tell us he was speaking as a teacher of Jewish wisdom, appealing not just to the head but to the whole person of his listener: heart, body, mind, senses, imagination. Like a lure darting and flashing before a fish, Jesus’s words dance and play before the imagination, breaking open our habitual assumptions about “the way things are.”. . . To be “born again” is to break free of the stultifying womb of conventional wisdom. . . .

Seven Pathways to Wisdom

February 24th, 2021 by JDVaughn No comments »

Wisdom is clearly more than mere intelligence, knowledge of facts, or information. Wisdom is more synthesis than analysis, more paradoxical than linear, more a dance than a march.

In order to grow in wisdom, we need to move beyond cerebral, rational knowing. As wisdom teacher Cynthia Bourgeault puts it: “Wisdom is not knowing more, but knowing with more of you, knowing deeper.” [1] I’ve created a list of seven “ways of knowing” that together can move us toward greater wisdom. Here are the first four:

Intellect: The lens that we most associate with knowing is intellectual knowing. It’s the result of formal education and it has to do with science, reason, logic, and what we call intelligence. Most of us are trained to think that it is the only way of knowing or the superior way of knowing. Yet that isn’t necessarily true. Seeing intellectual intelligence as the best or only way of knowing is actually a great limitation.

Will: The second way of knowing is volitional knowing. It comes from making choices, commitments, and decisions, then sticking with them, and experiencing them at different stages. Anyone who has made and then kept vows knows what I’m talking about. It is a knowing that comes from making choices and the very process of struggling with the choices. This knowing is a kind of cumulative knowing that emerges over time. The Franciscan scholar John Duns Scotus (1266–1308) felt that volitional knowing, or will, was higher and closer to love than intellectual knowing.

Emotion: Great emotions are especially powerful teachers. Love, ecstasy, hatred, jealousy, fear, despair, anguish: each have their lessons. Even anger and rage are great teachers, if we listen to them. They have so much power to reveal our deepest self to ourselves and to others, yet we tend to consider them negatively. I would guess that people die and live much more for emotional knowing than they ever will for intellectual, rational knowing. To taste these emotions is to live in a new reality afterward, with a new ability to connect.

Senses: Bodily or sensory knowing comes through the senses, by touching, moving, smelling, seeing, hearing, breathing, tasting—and especially at a deep or unconscious level. Becoming aware of our senses in a centered way allows us to awaken, to listen, to connect. It allows us to know reality more deeply, on our body’s terms instead of our brain’s terms. It is no surprise that Jesus touched most of the people he healed. Something very different is communicated and known through physical touch, in contrast with what is communicated through mere words. Tomorrow I will continue to describe three additional ways of knowing that can deepen our ability to know and love the world more fully as Jesus did

The Benedictine Wisdom of “Ora et Labora”

February 23rd, 2021 by Dave No comments »


If Jesus was a wisdom master who sought to transform the consciousness of his disciples through a way of life, the desert communities that sprung up in the fourth century may have been an attempt to carry on that traditional way of teaching. Cynthia Bourgeault, an accomplished wisdom teacher in her own right, traces the movement of Wisdom from the desert to the monasteries and into the present moment, honoring it as one of the foundations of her own wisdom schools:

One of the streams of Wisdom comes from very, very deep in the Christian tradition—the Wisdom of Benedictine Monasticism. Saint Benedict, in the fifth century, drew from an already well-established stream of transformational Wisdom that came out of the deserts of Egypt and Syria via a first generation of people who really wanted to practice what it means to put on the mind of Christ. Saint Benedict became heir to this and shaped it into a massive, stable container, which has been the foundation of Christian monasticism and monastic transformational practice in the West for 1,500 years. Its brilliant and stable legacy of “Ora et Labora”: “Prayer and Work,” offers a fundamental rhythm for the balancing and ordering of human life, and for the growing of that beautiful rose of Wisdom.

Joan Chittister, a vowed religious sister of the Order of Saint Benedict, explains how the Rule of Benedict provides an opportunity for transformation for everyone who chooses to follow its wisdom: 

All in all, the Rule of Benedict is designed for ordinary people who live ordinary lives. It was not written for priests or mystics or hermits or ascetics; it was written by a layman for laymen. It was written to provide a model of spiritual development for the average person who intends to live life beyond the superficial or the uncaring. [1] . . .

Benedict was quite precise about it all. Time was to be spent in prayer, in sacred reading, in work, and in community participation. In other words, it was to be spent on listening to the Word, on study, on making life better for others, and on community building. It was public as well as private; it was private as well as public. It was balanced. No one thing consumed the monastic’s life. No one thing got exaggerated out of all proportion to the other dimensions of life. No one thing absorbed the human spirit to the exclusion of every other. Life was made up of many facets and only together did they form a whole. Physical labor and mental prayer and social life and study and community concerns were all pieces of the puzzle of life. Life flowed through time, with time as its guardian. [2]


Learning the Wisdom of Jesus

February 22nd, 2021 by JDVaughn No comments »

Although we cannot be a part of Jesus’ original “seminary of life” as the disciples were, contemplative theologian Beatrice Bruteau (1930-2014) proposes that we can learn the wisdom of Jesus by drawing closer to him, eventually coming to live out of the same consciousness he shared with God. She writes:

[Jesus as teacher] wants us to experience his freedom. . . . He wants us to enjoy his self-realization, his union with the Source of Being, whom he calls Father. It’s his own interior experience that he wants to share.

This means that the rest of us are to have this kind of experience. Whatever is reported of Jesus, therefore, is to be replicated in us. Just go through the Gospels and find out what he is like. It’s a revelation of what is in store for you, what is expected of you, what is promised to you, and what you in your profoundest reality always already are. What he experiences in his consciousness, we are to experience in ours. We are to enter into his very heart, the center of his being. . . .

Entering into the heart of Jesus means also entering into our own heart, the center of our being, the core of our existence. . . .

Jesus, as disciple-maker, calls himself the Way, hodos, a road [John 14:6]. The road is something you can walk on; it gets you from here to there. Jesus is such a path. The passing from depth to depth on the way into his heart corresponds to a passing from depth to depth in our own heart, where “heart” means the core of our existence, not just the seat of the affections. We can walk on this road which is Jesus first by petitioning him, then by studying him, later by imitating him, and by dialoguing with him. But after we have practiced these disciplines for some time, if we are to enter his heart, we must get into his own consciousness.

In order to share Jesus’ consciousness, Bruteau suggests that we take the Beloved Disciple who “reclined on the breast of Jesus” at the Last Supper [John 13:23] as our model.

In order to move closer to the heart of Jesus, we “lean back toward” him by sinking back into the depth of our own consciousness, sinking down toward the center of our being. . . .

Each deeper level that we sink to . . . brings us closer to the heart or center of Jesus, because it is bringing us closer to our own center. . . . As we move back and down and in toward our [own] center, we are overlapping, so to speak, with the reality of Jesus more and more, as we come to corresponding levels of his being. . . . We are coming to know the Sacred Heart from the inside. . . . And our “inside” is coming to be more and more coincident with his “inside.” His Heart is becoming the heart of our heart.

A Seminary of Life

To understand the world knowledge is not enough, you must see it, touch it, live in its presence. —Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe

Suppose a superstar of knowledge moves into your house as a boarder. With three PhDs after his name, he sits at your supper table each evening dispensing information about nuclear physics, cyberspace, and psychoneuroimmunology, giving ultimate answers to every question you ask. He doesn’t lead you through his thinking process, however, or even involve you in it; he simply states the conclusions he has reached.

We might find his conclusions interesting and even helpful, but the way he relates to us will not set us free, empower us, or make us feel good about ourselves. His wisdom will not liberate us, it will not invite us to growth and life; indeed, it will in the end make us feel inferior and dependent. That’s exactly how we have treated Jesus. We have treated him like a person with three PhDs coming to tell us his conclusions.

This is not the path to wisdom nor is it how Jesus shared his wisdom with those who wanted to learn from him. Rather Jesus teaches his disciples through his lifestyle, a kind of “seminary of life.” He takes them with him (Mark 1:16–20) and watching him, they learn the cycle and rhythm of his life, as he moves from prayer and solitude to teaching and service in community. As Cynthia Bourgeault explains in her book The Wisdom Jesus, he taught as a moshel moshelim, or a teacher of wisdom. [1] He doesn’t teach his disciples mere conceptual information as we do in our seminaries. Rather, he introduces them to a lifestyle and the only way he can do that is to invite them to live with him. He invites us to do the same (see John 1:39).

“But the crowds got to know where he had gone and they went after him. He made them welcome and he talked to them about the kingdom of God and he cured those who were in need of healing” (Luke 9:11). Can’t you just see the apostles standing at Jesus’ side, watching him, noticing how he does things: how he talks to people, how he waits, how he listens, how he’s patient, how he depends upon God, how he takes time for prayer, how he doesn’t respond cynically or bitterly, but trustfully and yet truthfully? Can you imagine a more powerful way to learn?

Luke tells us that Jesus walked the journey of faith just as you and I do. That’s the compelling message of the various dramas where Jesus needed faith—during his temptation in the desert, during his debates with his adversaries, in the garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross. We like to imagine that Jesus did not doubt or ever question his Father’s love. The much greater message is that in his humanity, he did flinch, did ask questions, did have doubts—and still remained faithful. This is the path of wisdom.

The “Givenness of God”

February 19th, 2021 by JDVaughn No comments »

To Jesus, God was Creator of life and the living substance, the Living Stream upon which all things moved, the Mind containing time, space, and all their multitudinous offspring. And beyond all these, He was Friend and Father. —Howard Thurman, Disciplines of the Spirit

The work of theologian Howard Thurman was heavily influenced by his own mystical experiences. From a very young age, he felt God’s real and loving presence, whether he was on the water, in the garden, or looking up at the night sky. He knew he lived in a safe and sacred universe and this Big-T Truth became the foundation of all of his teaching. Like Jesus, the mystics, and all great teachers, Thurman takes what is personal and makes it universal. Walter Brueggemann calls this “the scandal of particularity.” [1] We “get it” in one ordinary, concrete moment and wrestle and fall in love with it there. It’s a scandal precisely because it’s so ordinary. What is true in one place finally ends up being true everywhere. In this passage, Thurman applies this youthful lesson to prayer:

One night I was awakened by my mother, who asked if I would like to see the comet [Halley’s Comet]. I got up, dressed quickly, and went out with her into the back yard. There I saw in the heavens the awesome tail of the comet and stood transfixed. With deep anxiety I asked, without taking my eyes off it, “What will happen to us when that thing falls out of the sky?” There was a long silence during which I felt the gentle pressure of her fingers on my shoulders; then I looked into her face and saw what I had seen on another occasion, when without knocking I had rushed into her room and found her in prayer. At last she said, “Nothing will happen to us, Howard. God will take care of us.” In that moment something was touched and kindled in me, a quiet reassurance that has never quite deserted me. As I look back on it, what I sensed then was the fact that what stirred in me was one with what created and controlled the comet. It was this inarticulate awareness that silenced my fear and stilled my panic.

Here at once is the primary ground and basis of people’s experience of prayer. I am calling it, for the purpose of this discussion, the “givenness of God” as expressed in the hunger of the heart. This is native to personality, and when it becomes part of a person’s conscious focus it is prayer at its best and highest. It is the movement of the heart of a person toward God; a movement that in a sense is within God—God in the heart sharing its life with God the Creator of all Life. The hunger itself is God, calling to God.

The Reciprocity of the Universe

February 18th, 2021 by Dave No comments »

The bloodline of God is connected to everything . . . shells on the ocean shore, the mushrooms growing in the forest, the trees stretching to the clouds, the tiniest speck of snow in the winter, and our dust-to-dustness—we are all connected and tethered to this sacred gift of creation. —Kaitlin B. Curtice, Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God

In cultures that have kept alive the knowledge that we are all one, woven in the same fabric of life (what I referred to earlier this week as “the Great Chain of Being”), people honor the reciprocity of the universe through ritual and tradition. Botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Robin Wall Kimmerer elaborates on this teaching:

The ceremonial giveaway is an echo of our oldest teachings.

Generosity is simultaneously a moral and a material imperative, especially among people who live close to the land and know its waves of plenty and scarcity. Where the well-being of one is linked to the well-being of all. Wealth among traditional people is measured by having enough to give away. Hoarding the gift, we become constipated with wealth, bloated with possessions, too heavy to join the dance. . . .

I don’t know the origin of the giveaway, but I think that we learned it from watching the plants, especially the berries who offer up their gifts all wrapped in red and blue. We may forget the teacher, but our language remembers: our word for the giveaway, minidewak, means “they give from the heart.” At the word’s center lives the word min. Min is a root word for gift, but it is also the word for berry. In the poetry of our language, might speaking of minidewak remind us to be as the berries?

The berries are always present at our ceremonies. They join us in a wooden bowl. One big bowl and one big spoon, which are passed around the circle, so that each person can taste the sweetness, remember the gifts, and say thank you. . . . The generosity of the earth is not an invitation to take it all. Every bowl has a bottom. When it’s empty, it’s empty. . . .

How do we refill the empty bowl? Is gratitude alone enough? Berries teach us otherwise. . . . The berries trust that we will uphold our end of the bargain and disperse their seeds to new places to grow. . . . They remind us that all flourishing is mutual. We need the berries and the berries need us. Their gifts multiply by our care for them, and dwindle from our neglect. We are bound in a covenant of reciprocity, a pact of mutual responsibility to sustain those who sustain us. And so the empty bowl is filled. . . .

The moral covenant of reciprocity calls us to honor our responsibilities for all we have been given, for all that we have taken. It’s our turn now, long overdue. . . . Whatever our gift, we are called to give it and to dance for the renewal of the world.


A Cosmology of Connection

February 17th, 2021 by JDVaughn No comments »

Christians often use the season of Lent (which begins today), the six and a half weeks preceding Easter, to reconnect with God and the fullness of our own humanity—the good and the bad—in some intentional way. The act doesn’t need to be sacrificial or impressive, but I’ve found that some form of contemplative practice, reflection, or commitment is a wonderful way to draw closer to God during this time. The world insists that we are what we do and achieve, but contemplation invites us to practice under-doing and under-achieving, and reminds us of the simple grace and humility of being human. I offer you this description from Barbara Holmes about her own nature-based contemplative practice.  

One of the ways I practice contemplation in my life is through fishing. It’s the space and the place where I find a real connection through the ocean, the waves, the sound of the water, the birds diving, and the struggle with the adversary, which is the fish. Now, normally we throw them back, but on occasion we bless them for giving us nurture and nourishment and we keep them.

I fish with my husband George. Because I am one of the Gullah [1] women who is a shaman in my family, I am really open. So I don’t look at a lot of violent movies and I don’t like to kill things and I can’t put live bait on. And I can’t take hooks out of fish that are wishing they could live. All of those sensitivities make this a practice that I need a partner for. And my husband George loves to be in support of it, so we don’t talk a lot. We commune, we listen to music sometimes, other times not. But it’s being in the cycle of life and enjoying that struggle. And enjoying giving life back and releasing some. And realizing that this is the dream that I asked God for long ago. And so God’s grace for me has been that my husband and I live out a dream I’ve had since I was a child, to breathe salt air, and to just learn how to be. 

My parents had to struggle. Suddenly Martin Luther King had opened a way. And the cheer and the rallying cry behind us was “Go as far as you can go. Go as fast as you can go. Get as many degrees as you can. You now have a chance to be somebody!” And I ran at it as hard as I could and I got as many degrees as I could, and three or four careers. But to just be is such a blessing! 

I suppose the equivalent of Barbara’s fishing in my life would be walking my dog. It really can be a contemplative practice where I engage with God, with nature, and with my own beloved friend, Opie. I’m not really doing anything. I’m just being me and being in love with the world.

The Great Chain of Being

February 16th, 2021 by Dave No comments »

Francis would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of “brother” or “sister,” because he knew they shared with him the same beginning.
—Bonaventure, The Life of Blessed Francis 

I would like to reclaim an ancient, evolving, and very Franciscan metaphor: the Great Chain of Being. This image helps us rightly name the nature of the universe, God, and the self, and to direct our future thinking.

Scholastic theologians tried to communicate a linked and coherent world through this image. The essential and unbreakable links in the chain include the Divine Creator, the angelic heaven, the human, the animal, the world of vegetation, all water, and planet Earth itself with its minerals. In themselves, and in their union together, they proclaim the glory of God (please read Psalm 104 and Daniel 3:51-90, which make this explicit) and the inherent dignity of all things. This became the basis for calling anything and everything sacred. 

What some now call creation spirituality, deep ecology, or holistic gospel actually found a much earlier voice in the spirituality of the ancient Celts, the Rhineland mystics, and, most especially, Saints Francis of Assisi (1182–1226) and Bonaventure (1217–1274). Women like Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) communicated it through music, art, poetry, and community life itself.

The Great Chain of Being of the early Middle Ages was a positive intellectual vision not defined by being against another or having enemies, but by the clarity and beauty of form.It was a cosmic egg of meaning, a vision of Creator and a multitude of creatures that excluded nothing. The Great Chain of Being was the first holistic metaphor for the new seeing offered us by the Incarnation: Jesus as the living icon of integration, “the coincidence of opposites” who “holds all things in unity” within himself (Colossians 1:15–20). God is One. Each one of us is a reflecting mirror of that wholeness and so is everything else. Science now has at least a couple of words that try to describe the same in the whole universe: holons and fractals.

Sadly, we seldom saw the Catholic synthesis move beyond philosophers’ books and mystics’ prayers. The rest of us Catholics often remained in a fragmented and dualistic world. We have been unwilling to see the Divine Image in those we judge to be inferior or unworthy: sinners, heretics, animals, things growing from Earth, and the Earth itself. Once the Great Chain of Being was broken, we were soon unable to see the Divine Image in our own species, except for people just like us. Then it was only a short time before the Enlightenment and modern secularism denied the whole heavenly sphere—a denial unknown in any culture except the recent West—which finally led to a denial of Divinity itself. The chain fell apart.

New Language for a New Story

February 15th, 2021 by JDVaughn No comments »

The Spirit whispers,
the ancestors agree.
You are star born
and God loved;
The universe awaits
your gifts. —Barbara Holmes, Race and the Cosmos
The addition of Barbara Holmes to the CAC’s Living School has been a gift, with her wonderful teachings on the origins of the universe and what they have to teach us about our future. In this passage from a lecture given at the Living School in 2019, Barbara shares the internal shift that led her to write her book Race and the Cosmos:
Writing Race and the Cosmos was actually my own transformation and awakening. . . .
As I considered it, the truth of the matter was that we were living within an old story; and a new story needed to be told, but we didn’t have the language for it.
The old story was of victimization, marginalization, oppression, oppressors; and the new story would see all of us evolving, self-expanding, and finding a new place in this wonderful cosmology that is a reality we have not paid attention to. So, in order to get to that point—and here is where my transformation begins—I had to reconsider what I thought about people, because I had hardened my view of others and who they were and what they meant. I had spent my time raising two little African American boys who had to be taught how to survive in society. In doing that, I taught them to view the world in only one way; and I myself was hardened into a position that either you were with me or you were against me or us.
All of that had to change. I had to begin to think of us as spiritual beings having a human experience, and not bodily, embodied folks without spirit or soul. . . . That’s a very limited view of humankind, and I wanted to expand the story. . . .
Richard here: Barbara brilliantly turned to the languages of science, cosmology, and physics to expand our view of humanity.
The physics and cosmology revolution that is 100 years old has not been translated into the ordinary world of any of us, and specifically not in communities of color. The world that scientists describe now is so different than the world that I grew up in or even imagined. According to physicists, this is what the world is like: it is a universe permeated with movement and energy that vibrates and pulses with access to many dimensions. . . . We are all interconnected, not just spiritually or imaginally, but actually . . . and the explicate [or manifested] order that’s all around us makes us think that we’re separate. Finally, I learned that ideas of dominance are predicated on a Newtonian clockwork universe. So, like dominoes, you push one and they all fall down, and everything is in order. But quantum physics tells us that the world is completely different. Particles burst into existence in unpredictable ways, observations affect the observed, and dreams of order and rationality are not the building blocks of the universe.

All Creation Has Soul

Nature itself was the first Bible. Before there was the written Bible, there was the Bible in things that are made. This creation starts with being very good (Genesis 1:31). We come to God through things as they are; spirituality is about sinking back into the Source of everything. We’re already there, but we have too little practice seeing ourselves there. God, in Christ, is in all, and through all, and with all (see 1 Corinthians 15:28; Colossians 3:11). We call this the Universal Christ or another name for every thing—in its fullness.
A spirituality of the Universal Christ is at the same time a creation spirituality. It allows you to start seeing your own soul imaged and given back to you in the soul of everything else. All of creation has soul! The Latin word for soul is anima, which became animal in English. This earth is participating in the mystery of redemption, liberation, and salvation. The whole creation is groaning in one great act of giving birth (see Romans 8:22). The whole thing is being reborn, re-covenanted, and realigned. Instead of seeing natural things as merely objects to be used, we must allow nature to enchant us.
This week we will be featuring authors of color, people who, like Jesus, see God in everything. Howard Thurman (1900–1981), the Black mystic, theologian, and spiritual guide for Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, shares his early experiences of God:
The true purpose of all spiritual disciplines is to clear away whatever may block our awareness of that which is God in us. . . .
It will be in order to suggest certain simple aids to this end. One of these is the practice of silence, or quiet. As a child I was accustomed to spend many hours alone in my rowboat, fishing along the river, when there was no sound save the lapping of the waves against the boat. There were times when it seemed as if the earth and the river and the sky and I were one beat of the same pulse. It was a time of watching and waiting for what I did not know—yet I always knew. There would come a moment when beyond the single pulse beat there was a sense of Presence which seemed always to speak to me. My response to the sense of Presence always had the quality of personal communion. There was no voice. There was no image. There was no vision. There was God. [1]