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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.

October 18, 2021

Approaches to Prayer

In contemplation we move from communicating with God through speech to communing with God through the gaze of love. Words fall away, and the most palpable reality is being present to the lover of our souls. When we let go of all effort to speak or even to listen, simply becoming quiet before God, the Spirit is free to work its healing mysteries in us: releasing us from bondage energizing new patterns of life, restoring our soul’s beauty. Here we allow ourselves to be loved by God into wholeness.

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.

October 18, 2021

“To Thee Silence Is Praise”

The sense for the power of words and the sense for the impotence of human expression are equally characteristic of the religious consciousness. “Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord or utter all his praise?” (Psalms 106:2). He is “exalted above all blessing and praise” (Nehemiah 9:5), “above all the blessings and hymns, extollings and comfortings that are ever uttered in the world” (the kaddish). This is the most important guidance:

Commune with your hearts … and be still.

Psalms 4:5

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.

Mupasi: The Cosmic s(S)pirit (Dr. Kuzipa M. B. Nalwamba)

Many Western societies have either lost touch with the s(S)pirit or have tried to domesticate its influence in our lives. Fortunately, the holiness of the s(S)pirit continues to gush forth from a wild and creative source. We need only turn to the Bible for verification that when the s(S)pirit appears there are dramatic changes to the status quo.

When the s(S)pirit descends upon the upper room, there are reports of flaming tongues and seemingly drunk disciples (Acts 2:1-13). Right after Jesus’ baptism, the s(S)pirit sends him into the desert to be tempted. When that wild bird enters the scene, surprises abound. To reconnect to this primal source of renewal, we may have to recover our cultural origins.

Crisis Contemplation: Healing the Wounded Village