Spiritual Practice

From Deep and Simple  by Bo Lozoff:

The presence of God can be practiced anywhere, anytime, because nothing is excluded.  Look around you right now.  You’re on hallowed ground.  God is here.  Our spiritual journey is not to make anything more holy, but only to drop every barrier, every addiction, every bit of pettiness, gossip, greed, pride, and delusion, which blocks us from seeing how holy everything already is.


From The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen: 

 [We] find ourselves in competition with people and institutions who offer something more exciting than we do. But our task is the opposite of distraction. . . the question is not how to keep people busy, but how to keep them from being so busy that they can no longer hear the voice of God who speaks in silence.  

 Calling people together means calling them away from the fragmenting and distracting wordiness of the dark world to that silence in which they can discover themselves, each other and God.


From Made for Goodness: and why this makes all the difference  by Desmond and Mpho Tutu:

The practices of goodness--noticing, savoring, thinking, enjoying and being thankful--are not hard disciplines to learn.  But they are disciplines, and they take practice.  The habits that allow wrong to become entrenched--mindlessness, or tuning out, inattentiveness, the busyness of doing to distraction, and the ungrateful heart--can take hold so easily.   Each habit that allows wrong to become entrenched feeds from the others.

We shut the mouth of our desire for God with busyness, or with things...and emerge at the other end recognizing that what we have is not what we need.

 Godly perfection is not flawlessness.  Godly perfection is wholeness.


From The Road to Daybreak  by Henri Nouwen:

I have to keep a careful eye on the difference between urgent things and important things.  If I allow the urgent things to dominate my day, I will never do what is truly important and will always feel dissatisfied.

I realize that islands of anger, bitterness and resentment still lie hidden in my heart. . . I divide [people] between those who are for me and those who are against me, those whom I like and those whom I do not like. . . My inner life is so filled with opinions, judgments, and prejudices about my “brothers and sisters” that real peace is far away.

We know what we most need, but we just don’t get around to it since we are so busy playing with our toys.  There is so much to play with!  No real time to grow up and do the necessary thing:  love God and each other.


From Practicing Peace,  a compilation of quotations edited by Catherine Whitmire:

To pray is to change.  Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us.  If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives.—Richard Foster

The ways to God are many.  They appear when we are ready for them and when our faithfulness has shown that we can live with the consequences of further growth. --John Punshon

The experience of God may be rare or frequent, but few of us experience God at all times.  During the intervals we need faith.  Faith requires us to act as though we were aware of God’s presence at all times. –Anne Curo

If we ignore an insight, we are less able to perceive the next one.  If we are not open to [God’s] leadings, we will be less able to know them when they come. –Paul Lacey


From Joan Chittister’s commentary on the Rule of Benedict:

God is most of all to be found in doing common things with uncommon conscientiousness.

What prayers ring in our hearts? What do we think about when we’re not thinking about anything special?  Do we ever simply stop the work we are doing during the day, look straight ahead, and pray?  


From Beyond Tragedy by Reinhold Niebuhr:

All of us have something of the false prophet in us, wherefore we ought to speak humbly.  We will mistake our own dreams for the word of God...Sometimes pride will tempt us to speak as if we had already attained or were already made perfect; sometimes cowardice will tempt us to make concessions to the immense, blind and stubborn self-righteousness with which every culture, every nation and every individual wards off the word of God.

For the Christian who really understands his faith, life is worth living...He is able to discern the goodness of creation beneath the corruptions of human sin.  Nor will he be driven to despair by the latter; for the God in whom he believes is the redeemer as well as the creator....[He will know] that the evil other men do him is not very different from the evil he does to others...The best antidote for the bitterness of a disillusioned trust in man is disillusionment in the self.  This is the disillusionment of true repentance.

When the Kingdom of God enters into the world it is judged by the world and found to be dangerous to all of its tentative harmonies and relative justice.

The childlikeness of an adequate religion lies on the other side of sophistication.  It is not the childlikeness of..ignorance but...of a wisdom which has learned the limits of human knowledge.  It therefore approaches life with awe, hope and fear 


From Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew Crawford:                                                                                                                   

 To respond to the world justly, you first have to see it clearly...Any discipline that deals with authoritative, independent reality requires honesty and humility.  

From Celebration of Discipline  by Richard Foster:

The purpose of the [spiritual] Disciplines is liberation from the stifling slavery to self-interest and fear.


From Meditations  by Thomas Merton: 

 Prayer is an alternative to working hard to get what you want.  One discovers eventually that what you want is almost always what you don’t need.


From Sabbath by Wayne Muller:

Sabbath time can be a revolutionary challenge to the violence of overwork, mindless accumulation, and the endless multiplication of desires, responsibilities, and accomplishments.  Sabbath is a way of being in time where we remember who we are, remember what we know, and taste the gifts of spirit and eternity.  


From When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough  by Rabbi Harold Kushner:

Religion is not a nagging parent, nor is it a report card keeping track of our achievements and failures and grading our performance.  Religion is a refining fire, helping us get rid of everything that is not us, everything that disturbs, dilutes or compromises the person we really want to be, until only our authentic selves remain.

A person who loves God necessarily loves silence,’ wrote Thomas Merton...  It is no coincidence that places of worship are places of silence; if idleness is the devil’s playground, silence may be the angels’.....Silence is the place where everyone finds his God, however he may express it.  Silence is an ecumenical state, beyond the doctrines and divisions created by the mind.  If everyone has a spiritual story to tell of his life, everyone has a spiritual silence to preserve.--Pico Iyer

All of us have a God in us, and that God is the spirit that unites all life, everything that is on this planet.--Wangari Maathai

Click here to return to the Readings page