(I received this book for free to review and this post may contain affiliate links.)
I am excited to share with you my review of Preparation For Great Light: Recollections Of A Christian Mystic by Clint Sabom.
Clint is a Founding Member of Contemplative Light, an award-winning writer and former aspirant monk. His poetry has been published in The Tulane Review, The Eclectic Muse, and his articles have appeared most recently in Paste Magazine. Clint works as Special Projects Coordinator at Dabel Brothers Publishing. Learn more about Clint at The Graveyard Cowboy.
Within this small book, Clint shares a collection of mystical experiences and episodes that took place while he lived in a Benedictine monastery. I love to pull out small pieces from other’s stories and share how they speak to me. I hope you enjoy the following nuggets that I chose to share with you:
“Or, to put it another way, it takes a lot of inner work to be able to tolerate the full force of God’s love on a daily basis.” I agree! I practice centering prayer twice per day. That is my inner work. I have been at it for almost three years now.
Centering prayer slows me down. It allows me to see the full force of God’s love: the sun, the trees, a casual conversation, a cup of coffee, a walk around the block with my wife and kids. I need my inner work so I can better see God’s beautiful outer work that is all around me.
See With New Eyes
“I lay on the bed that day, 21 years old, knowing then and there that something life-changing had occurred, something that would forever alter the way I looked out of my own eyes.” I think if we open ourselves to God, the Divine will reveal Itself. Silence is a portal to the Divine. We will begin to look out of our eyes in a new way.
“That’s good,” she said. “But if you want to go really deep, you need to stick with just one tradition.” We hear this quote from a woman whom Clint held a discussion with while he sat on a bench in a sunlit plaza.
I have decided to stick with one tradition. I always liked silence. I just did not know what to do with it. I stumbled into centering prayer. This became my container for silence. Centering prayer is my portal to the Divine. For now, I will continue to dig deep into this well!
“There is something, too, about living in the midst of other people being silent that creates a stronger silence than if I am just being quiet by myself.” Silence in community is powerful. A few years back, I sat in an old meeting house that was built in 1823. The service had no minister. I sat in silence with 100 others. We sat for one hour in a simple room. It had only benches, windows and wooden floors.
Quaker silence is filled with holy expectation. The Quakers anticipate and expect that Jesus will show up. I heard the rain gently hit the windows. I listened to human sounds: coughing, sniffing, breathing. The wind blew outside despite the indoor silence. The wooden floors creaked. I heard my thoughts. Sometimes I had no thoughts, just the spaces between thoughts. The meeting room was a container filled with peace, love, community.
Of course God is in the noise too. It feels good to be silent. We need silence. It nourishes our souls. When we are silent we are naked before God. We empty our mind of its thoughts and emotions. We let God’s loving gaze shine directly upon us. I do this as part of my daily centering prayer sit but have never done so in solitude with a group this large. We are meant to have silence. Silence with our God. Silence in community is powerful! We need silent community! I enjoyed my Quaker experience. I must do it again.
“Paradoxically, with no pressure to do a “good job,” I usually did a good job.” It is a shame that the work world does not operate in this manner. We must compete. We must perform. That is how we are rated. We are under pressure to perform and meet deadlines so we can get a good bonus and raise at the end of the year.
What if we did not have this pressure? Will we still do a good job? I think we just might because we will be relaxed. I think it is within our Inner Nature to want to do a good job.
Let Go And Let Be
“Well, I’ve learned that just ‘being’ can be an enjoyable thing. Not doing something, not working at something, but just being present, that that is actually not only doable but also enjoyable…” I paused. “And acceptance. Accepting the full range of life for what it is – myself, others, the outside world, not expecting anything to be some certain way but just letting go and letting things be.”
This is true freedom. We are open to what life throws at us. If we are present and can let things be, we will experience the diversity and beauty of life that the Creator has chosen to gift us. We miss much of what life has to offer when we judge, divide, split the field and make critical remarks. God wants us to just be with and enjoy life. All of it. Everything belongs as Richard Rohr speaks.
“In the years since, the contemplative tradition of Christianity has served as my anchor through seasons both difficult and joyous.” Centering Prayer will serve as my anchor and portal to the Divine. I hope you too can find your anchor and portal to the Divine. I encourage you to read this short but powerful book!
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I am currently taking on clients for Centering Prayer One on One Coaching sessions. I am happy to setup weekly, bi-weekly or monthly sessions with you over the phone or skype to help you go deeper into your centering prayer practice and integrate it into your daily life. Contact me for more information. The first session is 1/2 off.
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Our friends at Contemplative Light are offering Contemplative Practices. This course examines in-depth traditional practices of the Christian mystics, including: The Examen, Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer and Christian Meditation.
Contemplative Perspectives: Frameworks for the Divine: With the historic practice of The Jesus Prayer as a jumping off point, we explore the experiential aspects of the Purgation/Illumination/Union path of Christian Mysticism.
I am currently reading The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – a New Perspective on Christ and His Message by Cynthia Bourgeault and Contemplative Living: An Invitation to a Deepening Journey by .
The Way of the Wisdom Jesus: Going Beyond the Mind to the Heart of His Teaching – If you put aside what you think you know about Jesus and approach the Gospels as though for the first time, something remarkable happens: Jesus emerges as a teacher of the transformation of consciousness. In this online course, Episcopal priest, teacher, and retreat and conference leader Cynthia Bourgeault serves as a masterful guide to Jesus’s vision and to the traditional contemplative practices you can use to experience the heart of his teaching for yourself. Based upon her book The Wisdom Jesus.
Prepare to be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus. Check out Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright. It is based on his book Simply Jesus. Enjoy an article I wrote about one of the lectures on the Beatitudes.
This course is a short course based on Prof. N.T. Wright’s latest book, Simply Good News. Tom Wright will guide you through the chapters of his book through videos that suggest what some of the main points are. You will instantly get into the heart of the idea of ‘good news’ as it was understood by the 1st Century writers of the New Testament. You will be brought into their world in order to make more sense of what ‘good news’ means in our world.
Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks – This is a great way to listen to books with your cell phone while you drive, walk or relax at home. I frequently listen in my car during my commute to and from work. I’m a proud affiliate.
David Frenette’s book The Path of Centering Prayer reenergized the Centering Prayer tradition with its fresh insights and teachings. Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of God is a wonderful companion audio program created to be equally rewarding as a stand-alone guide – gives listeners an immersive resource to learn contemplative prayer, step by step and in the moment. With clarity and compassionate presence, Frenette explains the essential principles of this contemplative practice for both new and seasoned practitioners.
Centering Prayer is a silent prayer practice that can move you toward a profound relationship with the Spirit of God within. It is a way of praying that opens the door to the Divine Indwelling—the ground of our being. With Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating and his colleagues Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Father Carl Arico present the first online course in this method for deepening your intimacy with God and ultimately consenting to the presence and action of the Divine in all aspects of your life.
Since the time of the Desert Fathers in the third century, Finley begins, Christian mystics have practiced meditation as a way of opening to the direct presence of God in daily life. Legendary seekers such as Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart explored how meditation can lead us beyond the closed horizon of the ego, to an interior and holy refuge that is always available to us. On Christian Meditation, James Finley offers a gentle introduction to this all-transforming way of life, and the ever-deepening realization of oneness with Christ it leads us to. (Based upon his book, Christian Meditation.)