Friend of the Soul

friend of the soulJust this week I finished reading Friend of the Soul: A Benedictine Spirituality of Work by Norvene Vest. Vest is a spiritual director and author who focuses much of her work on Benedictine spirituality. I was looking for some more resources around vocation and calling as I develop a new course called The Religious Dimension of Work, so this work was recommended to me by Chris Smith of the Englewood Review of Books.

Who is this friend referred to in the book’s title? It is work. Through the Rule of St. Benedict, Vest offers that work is to be our friend, a friend of the soul. For me, this was a beautiful, fresh insight!

Not that I don’t already know that work is good and all work of all types can be done to the glory of God. But seeing work as our friend calls us to see it as something very personal, very intimate. Even more, rather than seeing work as something we simply deal with or, worse yet, despise, I have come to better appreciate work as our companion of the soul. Continue reading

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The Wilderness & the Gift of Slowing Down

sunset_in_the_negev_desert_near_yeruham_israel

Today I saw a link to an article by Ed Cyzewksi. The title is “Why We Need the Wilderness.” It struck me because the wilderness is where I’m at and where God has been drawing me for some time now. I was taken up with a few specific words in the article: Continue reading

Moving Beyond Ideas to the Heart

PrintOver the past few years, I’ve really come to appreciate the work of Jamie Smith. One book in particular that’s caught my attention is Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation.

In particular, Smith looks at how our formation (or he uses the word education at times) is not ultimately about disseminating ideas, but rather shaping hearts and desires. It’s profound to consider this, really. Not just at the Christian university level, but also for the local church setting. In our teaching and preaching, are we primarily just communicating ideas or are we shaping deep desires. As he remarks, education (or formation) is really happening at all times. So how are we forming those in our care?

To give an example, Smith considers the role of the mall within our western culture. Consider how this institution shapes and forms not just the minds of people, but it’s hearts, desires, and even bodies. It is a full five-sensory formational experience, if we allow it to be.

What if Christians recalled that the five senses are good gifts from God and are available to help form us at our core?

For Christian leaders and educators, this is a book worth picking up. I’ve put some quotes below that come from the book. Hopefully you’ll see how Smith begins to flesh this out a bit more. Pretty intriguing stuff! Continue reading

The Role of Stories in Life

peterson-wrk01.inddI’ve probably mentioned not a few times of my love for Eugene Peterson as a pastor-teacher. I can read and re-read any of Peterson’s work at any point. He’s simply one of my favorites. I recently decided to re-read Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology, which is part of Peterson’s “conversation” series. The book is based off the lines of a Gerald Manley Hopkins poem entitled As Kingfishers Catch Fire.

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Continue reading