The inspiring leaders highlighted here share an engaged contemplative lifestyle, and each with a unique twist on the faith filled mystic tradition. While they uphold mysticism, all are involved in the issues of the world and their faith communities. They believe in the power of prayer and inspire many.
By sharing these messages, my hope is that you, too, are inspired.
Marjorie J. Thompson is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church USA. She received her Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from Swarthmore College, and her Master of Divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary. Following a post-graduate pastoral internship, she became a Research Fellow at Yale Divinity School where she studied Christian spirituality with Henri Nouwen and did independent research in ecumenical traditions of prayer.
Marjorie has served as adjunct faculty for several seminaries, including McCormick, Auburn, Wesley, and Vanderbilt Divinity School. She has taught in The Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation, and directed the foundational program for Stillpoint.
In 1996, Marjorie joined The Upper Room as Director of the Pathways Center for Spiritual Leadership, now called Pathways for Congregational Spirituality, and has served as chief architect of Companions in Christ.
Examination of Conscience
For those who are new to examination of conscience, it is helpful to begin with a “life review.” This is an opportunity to look back through your life with a clear and impartial eye. The idea is to observe yourself as if from outside, objectively noting character traits, habits, attitudes, and tendencies across the years. Every effort should be made to put on neither the rose-colored glasses of naïve optimism nor the gray-colored glasses of needless pessimism. There is no need to justify, explain, blame, judge, or excuse. You are simply observing yourself with as much detachment as you are capable of by God’s grace. Of course, you will not achieve perfect impartiality. This is just a beginning in honest self-assessment.
Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), a descendant of two important Hasidic dynasties, was born in Warsaw, educated in Poland, taught in Germany, London and United States, and was considered by many to be a prophet’s prophet. He aimed, through his writing and teaching, to challenge modern people to be open to a renewed spiritual dimension and to engage the issues of the day with faith and moral fortitude. His timely writings liberated many and inspired a generation of faith and social leaders whose impact is felt today in the 21st century. His active role in the historic civil rights movement and peace movement of the 20th century created a unique and vital coalition for transformative social change agents.
An Ontological Necessity
A word has a soul, and we much learn how to attain insight into its life … however we have lost our sense for the earnestness of speech, for the dignity of utterance. Spiritual life demands the sanctification of speech. Without an attitude of piety toward words, we will remain at a loss how to pray.
Quest for God: Studies in Prayer and Symbolism
Barbara A. Holmes is a spiritual teacher, activist and scholar who stresses African American spirituality, mysticism, cosmology and culture. She has served as President Emerita of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and served as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Memphis Theological Seminary. Prior to accepting the call to the ministry, she worked as an early childhood educator, a professional actor, and a corporate lawyer in Georgia, Florida and Texas. A gifted and profound speaker and lecturer, she says, “My life is committed to the struggle for justice, the healing of the human spirit, and the art of relevant radical creativity.
There is an aspect of suffering that is not within our rational reach … We also lose all sense of collective purpose and belonging. During such times, the only option is to move toward healing together. No matter how tenuous and invisible the bonds of community may be, individuals must, for their personal and collective safety, work out their survival together.
– Crisis Contemplation: Healing the Wounded Village