Amos Smith and I had a chance to chat about his new book, Be Still and Listen: Experience the Presence of God in Your Life.
I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Why did you write your new book, Be Still and Listen: Experience the Presence of God in Your Life?
Scripture, especially the Psalms were hugely important to my mom, who was the anchor of my faith throughout my life and still is after her passing last year. David, who wrote the Psalms, and many other noteworthy figures in the Bible, including Jesus spent thousands of hours in stillness and silence. And this was the basis of their insights about God that made it into the Bible. I call this phenomena that I have touched on here the “inherent mysticism of the Bible.”
Mysticism is not a sidebar of the Bible. It is part of its core witness. To the extent that we experience God to various degrees. As the figures of the Bible experienced God, we do the sacred writ justice. If we remain on the level of systems of belief and belonging we fall short of the mark. The biblical prophets experienced God. To varying degrees we can experience God too.
What is a mystic?
A mystic is someone who experiences God, not as belief or as part of an inherited tradition, or as a reverential nod to historical revelation. The Quakers, starting with George Fox, knew that true religion is experienced- something we imbibe and make our own – something that becomes part of our being in the deepest sense – our highest human endowment.
You talk about the inherent mysticism of the Bible in your new book. What do you mean by this?
I have touched on this in the first question. One powerful example is Jesus. First he took the mystic journey and fasted for forty days and nights in silence and stillness. Then he was “filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.” Then throughout the Gospels Jesus seeks lonely places to pray and sometimes “prays all night. In short Jesus was a mystic and all subsequent Christian Mysticism began with him.
You mention silence, solitude and stillness in your book. How do you define these terms and why are they important?
Our world is hell-bent on the accumulation of wealth, competition, and consumerism. The new monastic disciplines of silence, solitude, and stillness are an anecdote. Instead of the sex and money culture that dominates, monastic disciplines help us to get in touch with our true mission, to drop fear, and to come home in the most profound sense, which gives lasting security and abiding joy no matter our circumstances.
After reading your book, what do you hope the reader will walk away with and cultivate?
I hope the reader will be inspired to try contemplative arts, especially centering prayer, which is the most life-giving thing in my life. I hope readers experience some portion of the saturating Light of centering prayer, which is the saving grace of my life, even in my worst times.
Can you share a little bit about your silent prayer practice and why it is important to you?
I practice centering prayer at least forty minutes a day and take at least one extended centering prayer retreat a year. This has made all the difference. And yes, it is a discipline. And like any other worthwhile discipline, such as learning to play the violin, it requires daily determination and grit, especially in the beginning.
What is next for Amos? Can you share any future projects?
I am working on a couple of book projects and have worked with Rich Lewis on his forthcoming book titled “Centering Prayer Journey,” which I’m excited about. My passion is centering prayer and Recovering Christianity’s Mystic Roots. To get a sense of where I have been and where I’m going please check out the “Recover Christianity’s Mystic Roots” website. If you contact me from there I will respond and hope to collaborate with you.
One on One Coaching with Rich
Does this sound like you?
“I am bored with my life?”
“I am not doing the things that I want to do in all areas of my life:”
-career, personal, family, community.
I feel unfulfilled, like I am just going through the motions everyday.
I have dreams and goals, but I am afraid to show up and take action on them.
I don’t want years to pass and be disappointed when I look back on my life.
Integrating Centering Prayer practice with your everyday life addresses all of these thoughts.
Do you want to obtain the freedom to become your true self, the person I’m created to be?
How do I create a long lasting and sustainable centering prayer practice?
I am currently taking on clients for Centering Prayer One on One Coaching sessions.
I will work with you to setup a program designed to meet your specific needs.
Be Still and Listen by Amos Smith is now available at Contemplative Life Bookstore.
Welcome to Contemplative-Life.org. Our mission is to present the best of contemplative teachings. Through contemplative awareness, one becomes open and present to the mystery of God in the here and now—in the midst of daily life.
I recently added a new section to my Resource Page: Books on Sale that features great kindle books at low prices. It includes authors such as Nicholas Amato, Diana Butler Bass, J Brent Bill, Mark Buchanan, Daniel P Coleman, John Eldredge, Sharon Grussendorff, Christopher Heuertz, Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen and Brian Zahnd.
I am currently reading The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth by Christopher Heuertz. Free with your Audible trial
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Christian Prayer Methods: Prayer is a core Christian practice, but for many, this means “saying prayers” or asking God for various favors. In this course, we will review a variety of methods of prayer that have been used for centuries in Christianity. Whether you’re a beginner who is just learning how to pray, or a more mature Christian who has been at it awhile, this course will offer specific guidance, encouragement and support for practicing several time-tested methods of prayer.
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. It is based upon her book, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – a New Perspective on Christ and His Message .
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.)