Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Armchair Mystic

I am currently reading the book Armchair Mystic. As I said in a previous post, this is one of the drier times of my Spiritual walk. However, this book is proving to be a great source of encouragement and growth for me.
I think when I look back at my life I notice a trend. I have used my outgoing personality as an excuse to hide from solitude with God. I get my biggest buzz from corporate worship experiences in various settings or from serving and being with people. I have admired those who appear to be "closet Episcopalians" and thought that their excercises of silence, solitude and silent retreats must be very helpful for them. But, with great certainty I have always known it was not for me. That was my first mistake!
During the current journey I am on, I have been wrestling with a new understanding of prayer and how it plays into our ecclesiology. One of our ministers is providing some spiritual direction for me as I struggle through this stuff. He suggested the book and some additional things for me to do.
This is what I love about the book. It is realistic. It acknowledges that personalities like mine will probably never fully embrace the life of a contemplative, but it explains why a personality like mine needs to incorporate aspects of the life of a contemplative. For the first time in a long time, I feel like the times I am spending with God are truly intimate and not "work."

3 comments:

Dana said...

Good for you! Five years ago I went on my very first solitary, silent retreat. I went away to a monastery for three days all by myself. It was a shock to my system but it awakened a need I didn't even know was there. Now I work hard to eek out several days at least once a year if not more and go away by myself. It has done more to allow God to begin reconstructing my heart than about anything else I've done. When you finish your book, let's talk about Centering Prayer!! I am so excited for you and the journey you have begun.

Love you,

Dana

Arlene Kasselman said...

Dana
thanks for the encouragement! These spiritual disciplines are not new to me, I have even taught about them....but now for the first time I think I am really "getting" it. I think that I have only used Centering Prayer as a vehicle to get to some other type of prayer (means to an end) but now I am learning that my Centering prayer can be the time with God itself and that sometimes the repetition of that prayer in the form of chant or song or simply repetition is the vehicle into the presence of God and no other prayer style is even needed. God is showing up in that time and I know He will mold me more and more as I allow it to happen. It is so hard for me to be less of a "doer" and an "experiencer" and be more of a "be-er". How is that for some made up vocabulary!

Jen said...

Hey Arlene! I went on my first silent retreat 2 years ago (and it was one that Dana arranged) and loved it. So I did it again this year and loved it even more because I wasn't so intimidated by it. The thought of being silent and also away from people talking was scary but now I look forward to them and I get so much from these silent retreats!