Thursday, April 19, 2012

Recovering Spiritual Formation

While in seminary I had the pleasure of being introduced to spiritual formation through spiritual disciplines. I had read Richard Foster's The Celebration of Discipline in the early 1980s. But, having been raised in a protestant tradition, much of Foster's work did not really resonate with me.
However, I took some classes at ATS in spiritual disciplines that fleshed out what Foster had written about decades earlier. I was introduced to the Desert Fathers and Mothers, the early cenobitic monastics and Celtic monasticism. The practices of the disciplines found a home in my heart. Perhaps, though, the person who has influenced me the most is a recent player, Thomas Merton. I found in him a kindred spirit who was able to bridge the gap between cloister and the world. He was a contemplative who could relate to the culture at large in ways that were refreshing and profound.
This link post by Carl McColman from Patheos about current a resurgence in contemplative practice is interesting. While some may find the close proximity of Christian practice to others somewhat uncomfortable, it does reveal a depth of heart and understanding that maybe "it makes sense to say that Christians today who find meaning and value in contemplative spirituality really do owe a debt of gratitude to many non-Christian spiritual teachers, who, instead of seeking to convert Christians to their faith, instead helped Christians to rediscover the treasures in their own."

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