By Carol Duerksen
What happens when you hold a book called God Calling by “two listeners” in 1932 in one hand, and in the other hand you hold one by Franciscan priest Richard Rohr in 2016? What happens when you read the two together and watch for the Spirit’s synergy?
What happens when you read a devotional book every year for 15 years?
A women’s faith formation class in central Kansas is finding out.
When one of our class members, Melody, said the following, we took note: “I don’t understand why people ask the question, ‘What are you afraid of?’ In my mind, that shouldn’t be a question, because I have learned how not to be afraid.”
Melody has absorbed what the God Calling book says into her spiritual and emotional DNA for so many years, she knows it by heart. And I mean, she knows it by heart.
Meanwhile, the whole class is reading God Calling, some for the first time. And I’m the one reading it alongside Richard Rohr’s devotional A Spring Within Us. Spiritual serendipity is happening all over the place! Read one book, and the other one talks about the same topic. The next day, the same thing. Over and over and over. While one book speaks of “men” for humanity, and God is He, and it uses the Authorized King James Version of the Bible, and the other book includes scripture citations that are the author’s paraphrase, and stretches my understanding of God, Christ, and the Spirit; in and among and through it all the message is the same from both books! How can this be? How does the Spirit do that?
Oh what fun it is to know this by heart!
The reoccurring theme in both books is simple: Sit in God’s presence. Be still. Learn contemplative prayer. Practice silence.
That is not my preferred spiritual practice. I would rather read books about spiritual growth, or talk to people, or pray while walking or swimming, or write about it. I don’t really want to just sit in silence.
But at one point in A Spring Within Us, Rohr explained that we might gather new information, but as long as it is the old self processing that information, we end up with information without transformation. He says we have to change the software, and that involves regular meditation. Silence. Just sitting. Letting go of our ego. Mentally sending that To Do List down the river in a little boat. Just being.
It took a secular book called Just Sit to get me to do that. I did it. . .even got a group together that sat together. Then Covid-19 came along, and we couldn’t meet to sit. And while I had plenty of time to sit at home, I got out of the habit.
Lent is a time to add good new habits as well as stop bad ones. This year I am working on that internal software.
Because, although I may not be a fan of just sitting, I am a huge fan of God. I am a huge fan of the Creator who is infinite enough to give us every intimate aspect of the earth and the universe, and yet intimate enough to give us an infinite supply of Spirit-connections. I am a huge fan of knowing there is always so much more to know about God. And because I am a fan, I will show up for the game—a game where I learn how God and I can play together. A game we know by heart.
Carol Duerksen is a freelance writer and editor, and on staff of Springs Forth! Faith Formation, Inc. which publishes multi-age curriculum online.