Tag Archives: Gary Thomas

A Year of Explorations

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot

As I continue with reading “Sacred Pathways” by Gary Thomas I feel inspired to put some of his ideas into practice this year. One thing I realized as I read about the practice of an ascetic surprised me. I had not considered myself as being an ascetic, yet when I read the words: “In a crowd or at a party, sometimes I try to ‘sneak in’ a few moments of solitude… All I know that it is in those solitary moments that colors regain their brightness, truth regains its clarity, and reality loses its fog”, I see years of my own behavior come into focus.

Waterfront, Seattle WA

Waterfront, Seattle WA


“Arrival, Waterfront, Seattle WA” 2013 DS

Case in point is my recent trip to Seattle by train. I had wanted to make the trip for several years to visit the Seattle Art Museum
and the Chihuly Glass Museum

Finally last September it seemed like the right time. I had also felt a longing to take a train ride. I put the two together and off I went alone on an adventure. The things I saw and experienced there will fill my mind and heart all winter and hopefully give energy to the preparations for my contemplation and creativity workshops. When I returned from the trip of exploration a new depth of knowledge about art, the city, God and myself returned to Vancouver with me.

Sometimes it is difficult to separate the outer and the inner life. Yet when I study and reap the benefits of knowledge about God and God’s ways a little action can turn the learning into real growth as a person and in my lived relationship with God and others. The way we live our lives affects those around us. I read again in “Sacred Pathways: “Each Christian life of prayer…however deeply hidden or apparently solitary in form, will affect the life of the whole Body.” It might just be that one of the ‘Sacred Pathways’ for me is to be a modern day ascetic. I find this invitation exciting: “Let her find in the busy city the desert of the monks.”

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New Year Blooming Amaryllis

 

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“New Year Blooming Amaryllis” 2014, photocollage, DS

This amaryllis is a symbol of all that is good about a fresh year starting.  However, I was having guests and was disappointed the plant did not bloom by Christmas.  Instead it broke forth today.

I was reminded of our own growth in Christ.  As I put the Christmas decorations away this week, Jesus, Emmanuel, is still with us.  He is resurrected.

A woman in one of my workshops before Christmas said with passion that Easter should be celebrated by everyone as more important than that of Christmas. The comment took me by surprise.  I gave her a hurried reply but pondered her words later.  I rushed to give her an answer where there was no need.  Her struggle with theological questions is a sign of her being in an environment conducive to wholeness.  She has made a choice that will give her life.  In her way, she sits at the feet of Jesus.  I had not recognized this before.

Gary Thomas in his book “Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God” writes refreshingly about the journey of the soul being the cultivation of our unique relationship with God.  We need to learn how to renew our spirituality when it has grown lukewarm or dormant.

 Rather than another discipline to add to our new year it might be fun to explore the “Nine Sacred Pathways” explained by Thomas: “[God] created you with a certain personality and a certain temperament.”  Just as the biblical Martha and Mary expressed their devotion to Jesus in different ways, we each have unique ways to contribute to the Body of Christ.

The flower bulb looked mundane yet it had its own way and it’s own timing to bloom.  It was not going to look like a gorgeous poinsettia with red leaf-like flowers, or a Christmas cactus decked out in hot pink.  It would be a spectacular salmon pink and white amaryllis showing as a surprise gift on this first day of a new year in our journey with God.

Whether we are extroverts or introverts, orderly or spontaneous, intellectuals or worship best with our 5 senses or imagination, we can find exciting ways to relate to God.  Here are some ideas from Thomas:

–       Pray to God beside a river

–       Worship with the senses: incense, intricate architecture, classical music

–       Study historical writings of Christians in earlier centuries

–       Spend time at a silent retreat center with pastors and artists

–       Work for societal change

–       Love your neighbor in some practical way

–       Show enthusiasm for your journey with God

–       In stillness, listen to God’s voice

–       Engage in theological discussions