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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.
-Dr. Dumas A. Harshaw, Jr.


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.

July 18, 2021

The Character of the Spiritual Life


It should be clear that Christian spirituality begins with God, depends on God, and ends in God. We owe our capacity to be spiritual to the grace of One who creates us free to share love with our living Source. The old mystics were fond of saying that we are capax Dei, that is, capable of receiving and embodying divine life. Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 ends with the remarkable words, “so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”! We are linked to the Spirit in a way we cannot adequately conceive or describe, but can experience and express in our life.

 – 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.

July 18, 2021

Man’s Ultimate Aspiration

There is no human misery more strongly felt than the state of being forsaken by God. Nothing is so terrible as rejection by Him. It is a horror to live deserted by God, and effaced from His mind. The fear of being forgotten even for an instant is a powerful spur to a pious man to bring himself to the attention of God, to keep his life worth being known to Him. He prefers to be smitten by His punishment rather than to be left alone. In all his prayers he begs, explicitly or implicitly, “Do not forsake me, O Lord.” … God is not alone when discarded by man. But man is alone. To avoid prayer constantly is to force a gap between man and God which can widen into an abyss.

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.


Toward a Future Together

Joy Unspeakable

erupts when you least expect it,

when the burden is greatest,

when the hope is gone

after bullets fly.

It rises

on the crest of impossibility,

it sways to the rhythm

of steadfast hearts,

and celebrates

what we cannot see.

Joy Unspeakable