I wrote this blog over a week ago and forgot to post it!
I am just emerging from the cloister. I spent five days and nights in solitude and silence; I did not see a soul. It was terrifying at times and it was beautiful at times, and both times holy. I needed it. After six years of teaching theology there is a tendency for it to become a scholastic exercise without me realizing it—all the while enjoying it and being invigorated by it. I confess that I was becoming a secular theologian with all the right—and sometimes wrong—words, but with scant and scattered communion with Theo.
While in the cloister I wrote a good part of a book on examining all the things that make us who we are, basically an aid for the journey of self-reflection. I also read a book and that’s what I want to blog about. It is not a new book that no one has read; it’s almost 30 years old, but it was what I needed at this time. And since one of the things that I’ll be doing on my sabbatical is a lot of reading, my blogs will become mini book reports for a while, sharing some meaningful quotes with my friends in the cyber community. I read Dallas Willard’s book, entitled Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, first published with a different title back in 1984—and I actually did have a conversation which I will not divulge.
“God uses our self-knowledge or self-awareness, heightened and given a special quality by [God’s] presence and direction, to search us out and reveal to us the truth about ourselves and our world. And we are able to use God’s knowledge of [Godself]—made available to us in Christ and the Scriptures—to understand in some measure God’s thoughts and intentions toward us and to help us to see [God’s] workings in our world.”
I think I’ll use that one in my book!
“I do not say that God may not guide through a vision or dream… [but] God is found most clearly and beneficially in the normal rather than the abnormal.” [Quoting E. Stanley Jones, 1946]
I was actually hoping for some kind abnormal and spectacular revelation in my time away, but this was a comforting word. Although the whole book is about practically and logically explaining a particular spiritual practice, he concludes with these words:
“The companionship with Jesus is the form that Christian spirituality, as practiced through the ages, takes. Spiritual people are not those who engage in certain spiritual practices; they are those who draw their life from a conversational relationship with God.”