Three Ways to Nurture Spiritual Health in Hectic Times: Essential Dispositions Underneath the Disciplines

Mid-November last year (at the juncture of Thanksgiving and Advent),‘s Meg Calvin approached me for an interview — focused on the question of “Spiritual Health in Hectic Times” or “Disciplines That Can Help Us in These Hurried Stressful Times.”

While Christmas is behind us, hectic and stressful times are not. (So much for thinking we had 2020 “stuff” behind us!) It seems then that the issues we visited back then are as relevant and as needful today as ever. Truth is, I believe, this video and its message probably have a shelf life of “as long as we are in this world.”

If you engage the [rather grainy] recording of the video (below), you will note that my response to the question is not my own. It’s grounded in the thoughts of Robert Mulholland – and most especially his discussion of “The Inner Dynamics of the Disciplines” (Chapter 11 in his Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation).

As that chapter title suggests, Mulholland focuses on “the inner dynamics” or “the deeper inner posture of being” we bring to the standard spiritual disciplines. (p. 136) Such disciplines are wide and varied. Many, if not most, would list prayer, study, worship, service, and giving. To these, I am personally inclined to add journaling, watching movies, and sitting in nature.

The ”problem” (though maybe that’s not the best word)… The difficulty can be the ways we riffle through these activities and check them off a spiritual “to-do” list – without any deeper attention to and waiting upon the sacred filling and surrounding these things.

Here, deeper “disciplines” (or should we not call them “dispositions of the spirit and the heart”?) present themselves as keys to our more fully engaging and appropriating the fullness of the other disciplines. Mulholland lists them as Silence, Solitude, and Prayer. (Though what he here calls “Prayer,” I’d modify or label more fully as “relinquishing prayer.”)

Mulholland summarizes along these lines [with my injecting a few comments of my own]:

In silence we let go of our manipulative control. [We open space wherein we acknowledge our control.] In solitude we face up to what we are in the depths of our being. [We expand that space — to the end that we are more and more open to what’s going on inside of us, asking essential questions of “why do I have to be in control?”] Prayer [ or relinquishing prayer] then becomes the offering of who we are to God: the giving of that broken, unclean, grasping, manipulative self to God for the work of God’s grace in our lives. (p. 140)

The fuller discussion (including a brief discussion [starting around the 13:00 minute mark] of the “Certification in Spiritual Formation” program which I help facilitate at BeADisciple) can be viewed by clicking the image, here below…

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