The Imaginary Boy

The other day I came across a passage in a novel that brought me up short. The book is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. The writer describes the thoughts of a nine-year-old boy: “His father always talked to him—so he felt—as if he were addressing some imaginary boy, one of those that exist in books, but quite unlike him. And he always tried, when he was with his father, to pretend he was that book […]

A Long, Loving Look at the Real

Jesuit theologian Walter Burghardt once described contemplation as taking a “long, loving look at the real.” That sounds lovely. But what does it mean for you and me—people who most likely are not preachers, Jesuits, or philosophers? Let’s take that phrase in three parts: long, loving, and look at the real. Long. This is a sustained gaze, not a glance. It requires time, but it also requires focused attention. So whether I am looking at […]

Opening Our Eyes to Contemplation

I’ve recently begun a year-long course on spiritual direction. The purpose of the course is not just to learn how to listen to and companion someone in his or her journey with God, but to become a contemplative. Contemplation is a word we tend to associate with the mystics and the saints of yore who experienced fantastic visions. We make it into something complicated, as if becoming a contemplative takes years of prayer and effort. […]

No Guarantees

Something to think about | Just because I am trying to do God’s work with every ounce of my being, is no guarantee that my plans will prosper. There is no guarantee that an effective Christian disciple will not be cut down in his prime. ` There is no guarantee that because you have given yourself to a Christian marriage, your oneness will be lasting.  That because you love God deeply, you will not lose […]