Celtic spirituality, gathering books and... rick james?

I just started to read J. Philip Newell's Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality born of Gaelic mysticism, an abiding love of the sacred presence in the ordinary and the belief that because St. John the Evangelist lay against Jesus during the last supper he "heard the heartbeat of God." Funny how one book can set off a search for others, yes?

At first this called me to gather up all my Iona books - I have a ton - so that they might all be on the same two shelves in my study. That led to collecting the works of Buechner, Nouwen and Chittister - I have a ton of them, too - and all three have been essential in my spiritual maturation. What's more, I want to revisit them this fall. But why stop at this odd Trinity? So I searched for the other books that have shaped and guided me over the years and brought them all together in a pastor's study embrace:

+ Finding God at Home: Family Life as a Spiritual Discipline by Ernest Boyer (a look at how family life is its own unique spiritual discipline not unlike monasticism.)

+ Dakota by Kathleen Norris (a spiritual autobiography where one poet searches for a sacramental way of living in a secular age)

+ The Pastor as Minor Poet by M. Craig Barnes (time-tested words by a life-tested pastor (now dean of Princeton Theological Seminary) re: listening to the words of our congregation and helping us all hear the poetry of hope and lament)

+ The Feast of Fools by Harvey Cox (the counter-culture as one of God's charism's to a soul sick America in the 60's)

+ Crossing the Soul's River by William Roberts (men's spiritual journies)

+ Feasting with God by Holly Whitcomb (an incarnational way of celebrating God's presence through food and friends)

+ The Substance of Faith by Clarence Jordan (a radical incarnational theology that demands social)

+ The Book of Job by Stephen Mitchell (mystery, suffering and God's love)

+ Opening to God by Carolyn Stahl (guided meditations)

+ The Mystery of Christ by Thomas Keating (the sacramental theology of the liturgical year)

+ Get Up Off Your Knees ed. Whitely/Maynard (essays about U2 and prayer)

+ One Step Closer by Christian Scharen (the theology of U2's music)

+ Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (God in the ordinary)

+ Working the Angle's by Eugene Peterson (observing and maintaining Sabbath as a pastor)

+ To Dance with God by Gertrud Mueller Nelson (a parish guide to family and community celebrations grounded in the liturgical year)

+ Prayers for the Domestic Church by Ed Hays (blessing prayers for the whole of life)

+ Rediscovering Reverence by Ralph Heintzman (the meaning of faith and awe in a secular world)

Each of these books has touched both my head and my heart and guided me when I was confused or in need. One clear theme emerges - my quest for the wisdom and insights of sacramental and incarnational theology - which was not something I learned about in either my home church or seminary. Another has to do with prayer - meditation, contemplation and embodied - which was yet another gap in my early formation. And then there is my on-going interface with the Bible, the arts and justice.

Today I was FULLY back at church - midday Eucharist, administrative work, pastoral meetings, hospital calls and the start of a men's book conversation about "a spirituality of imperfection" - and it felt right. But now it is time to chill, hang with my honey and share some supper and red wine. (All the more so because Rick James' "Super Freak" just came on and I need to shake it up!)


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