Most Visited Recent Posts

It’s time to list my most visited posts of the last month. As always, other than the home page, the two pages that continue to be visited more than any other are “Retreats” and “Ministry Burnout Statistics.” Other posts that have been popular recently (beginning with the most visited) are:

  • Spiritual Direction: Insights From a Master” – I reposted a list of some of my favorite quotations from a spiritual director I’ve appreciated over the year: Abbé Henri de Tourville. This is rich stuff!
  • A Fall Experiment: Praying the Psalms” – This launched a series of posts growing out of an experiment a few of us have been doing since Fall began of praying a psalm in common two days a week, and then sharing our insights. This post includes a downloadable journal resource.
  • Clinging to God Alone” – Here I shared a quotation about Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross and what they say about the temptation to cling to our experiences of God at the expense of clinging to God Himself.
  • A Good Word: The Fruit of Fasting” – I shared a great quotation from Scot McKnight’s book on Fasting about how we don’t fast to make something happen as much as to seek to share God’s heart.
  • I Give Up!” – I reposted a great quotation from Gerald May on the nature of true surrender that apparently struck a chord with many readers.
  • A Good Word: The Hard Habit of Regular Prayer” – A simple and profound quotation on how we learn to pray by praying, rather than reading about, talking about or hearing about prayer.

It Came From Ireland

Yesterday, I found a long-awaited package in my mailbox. It was a copy of Baron Friedrich von Hügel’s Selected Letters: 1896-1924. It’s one of those old books I love discovering and reading for classic richness. I became aware of it having recently finished reading Eugene Peterson’s Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (which is, by the way, rooted in his decades of work with the letter to the Ephesians letter, and which I can heartily recommend). In it, he comments that one of the most helpful literary spiritual directors in his life has been Baron Friedrich von Hügel (who died seven years before Peterson was born). Von Hügel (1852-1925) was a very influential Christian layperson, thinker, writer and spiritual director in his day. He was deeply helped by Abbé Henri de Tourville, who I have quoted extensively in this blog.

I had read and been enriched by von Hügel’s Letters to a Niece (which I quote from in this post). I also own, but haven’t yet read his classic work, The Mystical Element of Religion (800+ pages is daunting!). So when I went to look for his Selected Letters, most of the good copies of this 1933 publication were somewhere in Europe. I ordered one from a bookstore in Ireland and waited. It came sooner than I expected.

I love old books, at least those that have stood the test of a little time. Much of my reading is among, as my friend Jan Johnson says, “the dead guys.” Though I don’t have a goodie to share yet from this new volume, here is something from his Letters to a Niece:

“Drop things; always keep on dropping and dropping. My religion, my illness, suffering and life have taught me that. Always drop things. Don’t chatter to yourself–you can’t hear God if you do. We need not try to conceive God: he attends to all that. We have to make room for him in our souls. There was no room for Our Lord, you remember, at the inn. In this world, too, there is no room for him. Drop, then, all these things, these miseries: not by straining, or making or getting strength; but genially, gently; while attending, as you must, to these things, drop them; these flies that bother your nose, God nowhere visible. Resign yourself. That is God’s plan–faithfully, wisely, resign yourself. Fussiness and activity! What a difference there is between action and activity (Aristotle, God is action)! People waste their lives in these countless little activities and fussinesses. When I get up feeling I have a hundred things to do–then I know it’s all wrong. I try to get away, to go for a walk with Puck [his dog]. I leave everything till I am better.” (p. xx-xxi.)

We tend to see spiritual growth as accumulating, but what about de-accumulating? What might God be inviting you to drop in your life? Instead of only learning, what might He be inviting you to unlearn?

Looking Back: Trying to Compete with God

Happy Mother’s Day! I’m looking forward to enjoying the day with Gem today. We’ll have a couple of hours as a family later this afternoon on a party boat on Lake Mission Viejo, enjoying some goodies and conversation. What a treat!

Below is a link to a post where I quoted Abbé de Tourville on the mistake of trying to love God first. It never works out.

Read more of “Trying to Compete with God