Thinking about the inward journey...

Tomorrow I'm going to tape two shows about "spirit and art" with a local theologian and scholar for our local TV.  The first will consider the role of the Spirit in the work of Bob Dylan.  The second will focus on a spirituality of jazz and how it is a model for embodying the inward journey.  What a hoot, yeah?  It will be a good plug for our church and later that evening I'll get to do a jazz gig at Patrick's. (For those who might be free, the good times start about 6:30 pm!)

At the doctor's office this afternoon, I started reading a spiritual biography of Henri Nouwen - one of my favorites - when I came across this insightful summary of Nouwen's work. He articulates three polarities in our inward journeys:  a) loneliness and solitude; b) hostility and hospitality; and c) illusion and prayer>

+ The first polarity between loneliness and solitude has to do with our personal encounter with the holy:  are we at peace and able to listen for God's still, small voice amidst the whirlwind, or, are we frantically trying to fill the quiet places with distractions?

+ The second polarity between hostility and hospitality brings insight to our public lives:  are we at rest in the world - even with our enemies - or are we filled with fear, shame and resentment?

+ And the third polarity between illusion and prayer speaks of our intimacy with God:  are we open and alert or closed off and distant?  In a word, are we able to be quiet and grounded long enough to hear God speak to us of grace, forgiveness and love?

Funny how books I've had on my shelf for years seem to pop off at just the right time. There will be more to say about all of this but that will be for another time.  For now let me offer this one snippet from last night's reading of Mary Oliver.  She writes that "there is a notion that creative people are absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social customs and obligations. It is, hopefully, true for they are in another world altogether."  What do you think:  is she right?  (For me, I would have to say "oh yeah" in spades!)


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