Writings and on Christian spirituality
This page includes links to contributions from Bishop Mary and others who have blessed us with their stories. You will find links to more writings below. Click here for more Spiritual Resources from the Episcopal Church and beyond.
Introduction by Bishop Mary
Are you a spiritual being on a human journey, or a human being on a spiritual journey? The answer is both! Holding these two in tandem is an important discipline of Christian spirituality. If we see ourselves linearly as spiritual beings on a human journey, we may embrace first and foremost that which we perceive as spiritual in nature, distancing ourselves from the whole creation of God. If we see ourselves linearly as human beings on a spiritual journey, we may think that God is not reachable and the human experience which can be seen is all there is to life. To hold the two together is to recognize that all God’s creation is good, and that in Jesus Christ, God is made known in the human journey – that which is easy and joyful as well as that which is painful and difficult.
Christians believe in the Incarnation. That is, we believe that in Jesus Christ, God was fully human, and fully participatory in the complete range of human experience at a particular point in time. New Testament scripture speaks of something called grace; that is the unconditional love of God that Christians believed is fully demonstrated and shared in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5-8). As well, scripture speaks of the Spirit of God as dwelling within us (e.g. Romans 8:9), and hence the grace, or unconditional love of God, is present in our lives at all times. We understand this as the incarnation in real time, if you will, since we believe that Christ is eternal and has no barriers of time and space. Experiencing the presence of Christ, of grace, therefore, is something many Christians practice in their everyday lives; we are strengthened in our faith, more able to notice God’s presence in events and more peacefully able to negotiate the inevitable challenges of this human journey.
Practicing the Presence Within
There are two kinds of thought: rational and conscious. We use both all the time. Rational thought is perhaps best understood as linear thought. We use this sort of thought when we are trying to work things out: ‘if this, then that’. It is impossible to experience the presence of God using rational thought, especially since God is not a thing to be figured out. Mathematical equations, grocery lists, mechanical processes and the like are places we use rational thought. Relationships, however, require us to be conscious of the presence of the other. This occurs with people and God alike. Our best relationships are the ones where we are conscious of each other’s presence and loving one another unconditionally. We can do this by using conscious thought and aware of more than one reality at a time: that is, we can be aware of all we see and all we do not see. For example, love cannot be seen, but we all know it exists. We cannot see peace, and yet sometimes we feel deeply peaceful. At this moment, think of someone you love who is not with you. As you think of them, even though you cannot see them, you quite quickly begin to experience your love for them and are conscious of their presence. Notice that you are not considering all the details of the person you are thinking of, you are not making decisions about them, you are simply experiencing their presence using conscious thought. This same process may be used to experience the presence of God, which is with you at all times (Romans 8:35).
You can practice being present to the presence of others simply by being aware of what sort of thought you are using when you are with them. If you find yourself trying to “figure them out”, switch to conscious thought and see what difference it makes in your ability to love, accept and enjoy them. When seeking to experience God’s presence, let go of trying to figure God out, and using conscious thought, wonder about God’s presence, something you cannot see but is very real. As you practice the presence throughout your day, notice the difference in your thoughts, feelings and actions. You will begin to experience a greater sense of inner peace and deeper love for others. This is the fruit of a life with Christ, the one through whom we are given the fullness of God’s grace and presence.
Stories and Writings from Around the Diocese
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