THIS INWARD JOURNEY is by necessity a solitary one. We must travel alone the narrow path into the solitude of our own heart. There we find the healing we seek.
Artists have an advantage when it comes to solitude. Because so much of creativity requires a degree of physical solitude, artists must come to terms with it as an integral part of their call. …
Inner solitude invites us to live from the place where our true identity is enveloped in the peace of Christ. This solitude anchors us in the midst of life’s tribulations. When we are surrounded by chaos, the experience of solitude allows us to stand firmly on solid ground. It holds our focus on the one thing needful in the midst of all that competes for our attention. Without inner solitude, life ceases to have meaning as we are tossed to and fro by the whims of the world.
An inescapable component of the spiritual journey, solitude does not require every pilgrim to lead an austere monastic existence. It does, however, compel us as pilgrims to find a way into the still point at the center of our being where the deep peace of Christ resides.
THE DECISION TO BEGIN the creative process commits us to an exploration of the inner life. The discoveries made there merit our whole attention and all our compassion. The journey inward reveals our gifts and our graces—who we truly are and were always meant to be.
However, the move inward also risks uncovering wounds and fears, revealing how they have distorted our true identity. The journey inward leads the artist and the pilgrim to relinquish whatever masks or hinders the true self.
IT IS SAID that we spend the first half of our lives seeking to establish ourselves. We need to gain the recognition and respect of other people. Childhood and youth call for the development of the ego. Parents, teachers, churches, and culture guide us to become responsible, contributing members of society.
In the second half of life we want to be who we really are rather than being shaped by the opinions of others. In life’s second half—midlife and mature years—the ego diminishes and the greater self becomes central, finding our identity in God. Life becomes an expression of the inner life’s moving in the outer world. Contemplative prayer is the vehicle for that inward and then outward journey
SPIRITUALITY IS NOT NECESSARILY a comfort zone. Most of us, myself included, prefer a spiritual path that builds inner peace, self-esteem, confidence in times of trouble, and so on. We prefer not to embark upon a spiritual path that leads to painful inner change and difficult questions! …
The spiritual path certainly leads to positive outcomes, but it can also lead us out of our familiar routine and demand significant changes in our thinking and patterns of living
A COLLEAGUE ONCE CHALLENGED the members of our work team to find a way to practice gratitude. Every morning during his drive to work, he would make a mental list of 20 things for which he was grateful that day; and he was convinced this habit had changed his life. Intrigued, I accepted his challenge. In the car each morning, I began to name aloud people, events, intangible qualities, and aha moments that had blessed my life. At first, I worried about being able to think of 20 things, but I was surprised to find that the hardest part was stopping at 20!
I have taken up this practice several times since then, and I must admit my friend was right. When I am intentional about being grateful, I find that my attitude, my day, my life seem to flow from a place of joy, humility, and wonder that open me up to so much more for which to be grateful
WE MEET AND RESPOND TO JESUS when we rub against others in community. We receive the forgiveness of sins when brothers and sisters offer words and gestures of pardon in community. In church community we also encounter Jesus’ abiding presence, the fulfillment of his promise to be with us always, as we discover soul friends. The most helpful thing I’ve done in my life of prayer is to spend one hour once a month with an older, wiser Christian who is experienced at prayer and living life with God.
In one way, prayer is natural—we were made for it and we long for it. In another way, we find prayer confusing and fraught with challenges. Why not spend time with someone who knows the way and who can give us gentle guidance, encouragement, and support? In the church God has given us these people.
A soul friend walks alongside us, the way Jesus walked with the disciples on the way to Emmaus. A soul friend companions us. … A soul friend is one who offers the word or gesture of forgiveness, one in whose presence we are not afraid to bare our souls.
– L. Roger Owens