A More Peculiar Practice

I have recommended three practices that have helped me to grow spiritually. They are silence, journaling, and holy reading. These three can be found in many books on the spiritual life. Today’s practice is more peculiar to me.

Some 20 years or so ago I began to see a spiritual adviser. It was a time when I was considering a change of vocation and/or denominational affiliation. It was recommended that I begin seeing Rev. Steve Holzholb. One thing he advised changed my life. He suggested that I not read quite as much scripture in my morning devotions. At that time I was reading an Old Testament passage, a Psalm, a New Testament passage, and a Gospel passage. He said, “LaMon I want you to read only in the Gospels for awhile and nothing else.” 20 years later, I simply cannot omit reading in the Gospels everyday I do my devotions.

As a Protestant Christian, I had interpreted Scripture and life largely through the writings of Paul. This is the normal Protestant pattern. Paul’s writings become the grid by which we understand everything else.

Following my adviser’s suggestion, I began reading a passage from the Gospels daily. It took months, but eventually, my grid changed. No longer did I see everything through the eyes of Paul, but instead through the eyes of Jesus. I interpreted Paul by way of Jesus and not visa versa. If I am a better person now that I was 20 years ago, one of the reasons is that I immersed myself in the Gospel stories and teachings of Jesus.  I believe this Gospel reading has made me more compassionate, forgiving, and welcoming.

It can work for anyone. Simply determine that, except for some vocational necessity, e.g. teachers, preachers, etc., you will read only in the Gospels for awhile. Do not read whole chapters. Read shorter selections. Read slowly, listening for a word from God about which you might write and pray in your journal. As I said, I started doing it “for awhile” and continue to do it some 20 years later–though I do now add some other readings from time to time.

May Jesus himself be your teacher.

[As always, if you find what I have written helpful, you may share it with others. You might encourage them to ‘follow’ these blogs as well.]

Why I Write

I enjoy writing. I have tried my hand at writing Sci Fi short stories, with zero success in getting any published. I have written one book and contributed to two others. I have written journal articles. I continue to write bad poetry. But most importantly for my ‘pathway to God’, I have been keeping a personal, devotional journal for over 40 years.

It is in the actual writing down of my thoughts about my experiences and my reading in scripture and elsewhere that helps me to see the path up which I have come and the path that lays before me. I am a serious introvert. I certainly don’t have to work at it! Perhaps that helps me to persevere in this discipline. I know that journaling doesn’t seem to be effective for everyone, but it has been vital to me.

Again, I enjoy writing. I have read a lot, written a lot, thought a lot, and experienced a lot. So, I am writing this blog with the hope that something I might write here will help someone else along their path.

I hope you enjoy reading it.

A Picture and a Plan

The picture for my new blog site is of a well-worn pathway leading into forest and fog. The fog reminds me of the devotional classic Cloud of Unknowing.  And in scripture the presence of God is often associated with clouds. This surely means any account of our experiences with God must be expressed with humility. God is far more than our little experience of God.

I have thought a lot about what I wanted to do in this space–even what I wanted to call it. I thought about using the words ‘spirituality’ or ‘mysticism’. But I was reminded of what an old professor of mind once said. He had for a few years offered a course entitled “Christian Mysticism”. Almost no one signed up. He changed the title, but not the syllabus. The new title was Devotional Classics. That change significantly increased the number of students who enrolled. So, I tried to find a name and a theme that would be more winsome.

Truth be told, I will be talking about spirituality (a much over-used word) and mysticism (a suspicious word), but it’s really about how we connect with God.

One final word today on the phrase “Pathways to God”. I believe that Christ is the Way to Life and Truth–the Way to God. But that Way can be found along many different paths. And whichever path we find ourselves walking, Christ will be with us.

Till next time, may God’s peace cover you like the forest along your path to God.