Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Day of Grace coming to Davidson

Once I was in a group that was asked who or what had made the biggest difference in our spiritual growth. Some said church. Some said parents or Sunday school teachers or ministers. My honest answer: books.

I have found spiritual companionship and intellectual stimulation in hundreds of books over the years. Many are old friends I've returned to again and again. Occasionally I've had the opportunity to meet the people who brought those books into being -- Henri Nouwen, Madeleine L'Engle, Philip Newell, Margaret Guenther, Morton Kelsey and Scott Peck, among others. It's always fascinating to be able to put a voice to the words on a printed page, to ask questions and to hear what's been stirring their souls lately.

So I was delighted to learn of an upcoming one-day retreat in Davidson by Sister Macrina Wiederkehr. Her book "A Tree Full of Angels" is one of those wise old friends.

Here is one of my favorite passages from that book:

"The reason we live life so dimly and with such divided hearts is that we have never really learned how to be present with quality to God, to self, to others, to experiences and events, to all created things. We have never learned to gather up the crumbs of whatever appears in our path at every moment. We meet all of these lovely gifts only half there. Presence is what we are all starving for. Real presence! We are too busy to be present, too blind to see the nourishment and salvation in the crumbs of life, the experiences of each moment. Yet the secret of daily life is this: There are no leftovers!

"There is nothing -- no thing, no person, no experience, no thought, no joy or pain -- that cannot be harvested and used for nourishment on our journey to God."

The contemplative retreat, "A Day of Grace," will be held Saturday, Nov. 10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Congregation House of Davidson College Presbyterian Church. Joining that church in sponsoring the ecumenical event are Davidson United Methodist Church and St. Alban's Episcopal Church. The registration deadline is Nov. 1, and forms can be found here.

If you want to learn how to live reflectively -- or be reminded of its value -- this could be a day well spent.

Have books played a part in your spiritual journey?


D.J. said...

Books certainly play a big role in my spiritual journey. I recently finished a biography of 19th century Scottish pastor Robert Murray M'Cheyne. It was simultaneously challenging and encouraging to read the reflections of a man who made an enormous impact for the gospel of Christ in just 29 short years of life. I've been similarly challenged by many other great writers past and present, among them C.S. Lewis, Richard Baxter, John Piper, Martin Luther, D.A. Carson, and Charles Spurgeon. Thanks be to God for the gift of the written word!

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

Books! The greatest human invention in my mind. Without books transfer of knowledge would be very limited. We are so lucky our ancestors around 3th to 4th millennium BCE independently invented writing on several occasions.


Anonymous said...

oh... it is 3rd not 3th ;)

I should know better... too early in the am.


Anonymous said...

Books that had the greatest impact on my spiritual journey other than the 66 of the Bible:

1 - Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

2 - Witness by Whittaker Chambers (The forward written as a letter to his children are 26 of the most powerful I have ever read.)

3 - Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Tom is the picture of Christ.)

4 - Letter From a Birmingham Jail - MLK, Jr.

5 - Born Again - Chuck Colson

Anonymous said...

My top 5 books (re)read recently:

- Breaking the Spell : Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel C. Dennett

- God Is Not Great : How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens

- God: The Failed Hypothesis : How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist by Victor J Stenger

- The Blind Watchmaker : Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design by Richard Dawkins

- The End of Faith : Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris