The contemplative way of spirituality is the way of stepping aside from anything and everything we think or feel that would distract us from what is present right here and now–the conscious awareness of God’s presence.
Dave Brisbin | 11.27.16
Coming off Thanksgiving and probably the loudest family gathering ever, I realized that the gratitude we all felt and hadn’t quite put into words, was being expressed through sheer volume: through the day long dance of family members moving in and out of conversations and laughter and food and games. It was a constant motion, a giving and receiving that blurred into one thing that I suppose we could describe as family or love or long-familiar relationship. When we look at God from a Christian point of view, we’ve been asked to see three persons in one God, but what does that mean, and why is it important? What does it offer each of us day in and out?
Dave Brisbin | 11.20.16
When a person gets up to accept and award or honor, whether a politician to a movie star, I’ve always wondered what exactly is meant when he or she inevitably says they are “humbled” to accept this award. That statement can be authentically heartfelt and can mean many things, but if we really break down what humility means, is it really humble? What is humility and why does Jesus hold it as such a primary value? In Jesus’ stories and parables, it is obvious to scholars that he is tapping into the ancient Jewish tradition of the “anawim…” those who are poor and lowly, meek and gentle, those who have been oppressed and marginalized to the point that they have nowhere left to turn except directly to God.
Dave Brisbin | 11.13.16
Nearing the end of a year of almost constant change, worn out, ready for some sort of plateau or break in the action, the realization reaffirms that there is no plateau. There is no time in life that change isn’t constantly in process. Sit for a few minutes and watch the shadows move across your living room—subtle reminder of just how fast things are really moving in our lives. Most of us don’t like change, but if we’re not changing and moving, we’re not part of the action of God’s spirit, which is always in motion, always bringing change.
Dave Brisbin | 11.6.16
Walking my daughter down the aisle on her wedding day was just about everything I could have hoped for in such a moment. She was absolute beautiful in her dress, her mother and I love her groom, the setting and preparations couldn’t have been better. But even in a perfect moment such as this, I was of course aware of fractures between families and family members that had remained either unresolved or unspoken for years, and yet as the evening unfolded, there were moments of reconnection and reconciliation that deepened the experience. I couldn’t help thinking of all the mistakes we’d all made over the past twenty five years, all the hurts and resentments, anger that somehow led to this perfect moment of reconnection.
Frank Billman | 10.30.16
The Bible contains many mysteries or seeming paradoxes as it seek to describe our relationship and walk with God. Unfortunately, many of us who have been in church for a while have learned the “answers” to these mysteries. How do we re-enter a state of awe and amazement if we feel we have the answers to all the questions? How do we embrace the statement by Brennan Manning who said, “I wouldn’t want a God I could comprehend?” How will we ever be able to accept God’s unconditional love and unmerited grace—which are the greatest mysteries of all—if we can’t find a way to rest in the unexplainable?
Dave Brisbin | 10.23.16
Why does Jesus speak in such paradoxical terms? Why is he always taking the world as we know it and turning it upside down, inside out, and backside front? There seems to be a way of seeing life from the Father’s perspective that turns it all around in a way that is essential to our spiritual growth and identity. Some people call this moving from a first half of life to a second half of life spirituality. The first half of life dealing with the external tasks and details of accomplishment and acquisition, of identity building from the outside in, and the second half learning to see the deeper task within the task, the universal task that builds identity from inside out.
Dave Brisbin | 10.16.16
One of the most fundamental truths of life is that it all happens, is all contained, in one moment: this moment, this day. Like a person with amnesia who wakes every morning with memory washed, each of us must learn and live everything necessary to fulfill our purpose as humans in the space of just one day, one life, one generation. But because we have the capacity to think beyond the moment—into the abstract, into yesterday and tomorrow, and because we fear the finality of our deaths in this life, we project purpose and meaning into the future, into a legacy that exceeds our own space and time. We want to be remembered, revered, to make a mark that will last. We live our lives working to build, accomplish, impress, and grow, and we do this until we realize none of that matters, that what matters remains elusive in spite of all effort.
Dave Brisbin | 10.9.16
Any look at the contemplative way has to include a close look at what since Thomas Merton in the fifties has been called the “false self.” This sense of personal identity is based on the emotional programs for happiness and survival born out of basic human need and nature and as a by-product of self-awareness/consciousness. But it is tailored to each individual by our hurts and traumas, primarily from early life where our deepest fears, attitudes, and worldview are formed. How can we identify this false self that, just as the sun obliterates the nighttime stars, obliterates the true self that remains purely connected to God’s presence deep within.
Dave Brisbin | 10.2.16
What worries you most? Honestly going through the pantheon of all that occupies our thoughts and disrupts our sleep not only shows us our fears, but what we expect will relieve them in terms of the outcomes over which we obsess. Now imagine that you were suddenly free of all that worry, anxiety, and stress. What would that actually feel like? Jesus says it feels like Kingdom. Maybe we’ve not had the experience since we were still in the garden of our childhood, not knowing we were naked, with nothing separating us from the moment of waking through the cool of the evening with Presence. Arguably, all of human life is a working through a return to the Garden of our childhood. How do we do this? What keeps us from seeing the journey clearly?
Dave Brisbin | 9.25.16
How important is prayer? A kneejerk reaction says of course it’s important, essential to our spiritual lives. But a more important question may be what kind of prayer is essential to our spiritual lives? When you take all the different types of prayer that we commonly think of as prayer—recited prayer, freeform prayer, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, praise—what is common to all of them are words. Words form the basis of most if not all our prayers, and yet words can never capture the deepest parts of our spirituality or the relationship we have with a God who can’t be seen or expressed in any way. The Hebrew word for prayer, slotha, points back to the roots, sela, which is actually a hunting term for laying a snare or setting a trap.