Meister Eckhart wrote, “As thou art in church or cell, that same frame of mind carry out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness.” Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continually return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life. It is a dynamic center, a creative Life that presses to birth within us. It is a Light Within that illumines the face of God and casts new shadows and new glories upon the human face. It is a seed stirring to life if we do not choke it. It is the Shekinah of the soul, the Presence in the midst. Here is the Slumbering Christ, stirring to be awakened, to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action. And He is within us all.”
With this paragraph Quaker scholar Thomas Kelly opens his profound little book, A Testament of Devotion. I first read this book during a time of deep spiritual emptiness—a crisis of faith, really, during which I had reached the limits of my tolerance for a soulless Christianity. Kelly spoke to my soul and drew me toward the soulful Christ. I return to Kelly during periodic episodes of spiritual weariness, such as I am experiencing now. Life has been good and ministry has been fruitful, but for too long my days have pushed me a bit too much “out there,” leaving little time and internal space for pondering and prayer. I feel disconnected from unseen realities.
So I pick up Kelly again. And other trusted soul-friends. Brother Lawrence and The Practice of the Presence of God. Dallas Willard and The Divine Conspiracy. Scot McKnight and Praying with the Church. Brian McLaren and Naked Spirituality. N.T. Wright and his latest release, Simply Jesus.
After I read, I close my eyes and listen to A New Liturgy: God is Love—described by its producer, Aaron Niequist, as “a moveable, sonic sanctuary.” For the next twenty-five minutes my office, my kitchen or my car becomes a place where my soul is nourished and my mind refreshed. (Check out A New Liturgy at www.anewliturgy.com )
Busy days are on the horizon. An international trip. Writing deadlines. Logistics. Details. Holidays. Out-of-town guests. I will welcome all of that when it comes. But today, and perhaps tomorrow—and hopefully in scattered hours throughout the coming weeks—I welcome those windows of time when I can live slowly, read and reflect, nourish my soul and renew my mind. Ponder and pray.