Spiritual Formation: A unifying initiative with God, others, self, and creation.
Prayer: where mind + heart are wide open in the Presence of God, fully vulnerable-transparent, one with God + others + self + all of creation. God’s heart and our heart, fully open and meeting each other.
Spiritual formation was trending for a while. Then I stopped hearing much about it, but not after the subject made an impact on me. It’s actually been trending for millenia. The Psalms are a great example of someone longing to be one with God.
One of my favorite books on the subject is Henri Nouwen’s, “Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Heart” (link: http://a.co/c6HSUmA). He says that spiritual formation is “…not about steps or stages on the way to perfection. It’s about the movements from the mind to the heart through prayer in its many forms that reunite us with God, each other, and our truest selves.” (K.Loc. 152)
Doesn’t that sound like something we long for?! To experience God’s nearness and heart in our hearts? His love in our hearts for others and for this world? God’s love for you and I in totality, with every movement within vulnerable to God’s unending grace? Breathe in/breathe out! Take it in.
And prayer becomes one primary way (in all it’s different forms) that sink into mind and heart before the face of God.
Prayer is like breathing. We don’t think about breathing, we just do it as a natural impulse to live. Like any habit or discipline, prayer takes time, effort, intention, grace. There are some days when prayer feels very natural and connected, but also at times, very rough and disjointed.
Sometimes I resist entering into prayer. I feel the resistance in my emotions, sometimes even in my body. So my prayer time my start with a quick acknowledgement of those feelings with God.
I long for my heart to be transformed and my hope is that prayer is a way to experience this formation in my mind : heart : soul.
Spiritual formation requires taking an inward journey to the heart. Although this journey takes place in community and leads to service, the first task in to look within, reflect on our daily life, and seek God and God’s activity right there. People who dare to look inward are faced with a new and often dramatic challenge: they must come to terms with the inner mysterium tremendum—the overwhelming nature of the inner life. (K.Loc. 194-196)
If we have a theology that views God as angry at us, or if we only see ourselves as corrupted sinners, it’s hard to see any good in us or others. I content that spiritual formation will help us to have a right, sober, and healthy view of God, ourselves, others, and this world as we see God’s activity in our lives.
I’ll be writing about Nouwen’s book on spiritual formation for the next few weeks. I hope you join along and see this as a journey to “Christ in you…the hope of glory”.