Saint Teresa of Avila was a 16th-century mystic and Carmelite nun who traveled around teaching and writing mystical treatises on the interior life of maturing Christian spirituality and contemplative practices. (Here’s a great intro on her life.)
To read her writings and to read about her life is one of the most powerful testimonies to a woman’s place in the Christian church. She constantly rubbed the male power structures the wrong way and in many of her writings one can see how she bends over backwards to accommodate their concerns about a powerful woman, trying to demonstrate how a woman can teach and lead while also living in accordance to the doctrines of the scriptures. And yet, more than any intellectual argument, it is her grace, maturity, and powerful insight into the Bible, the Christian Life, and the human soul that are some of the greatest apologetics for a woman’s full right to teach and preach and lead in the Church. I am currently reading through her magnum opus, The Interior Castle, and it is breathtaking. I ran across this brief passage and lamented along with Teresa… Continue reading
We have but to get quiet, recollect our thoughts, wait for the mild excitement within us to subside, and then listen closely for the faint cry of desire. Ask your heart, “What would you rather have than anything else in the world?” Reject the conventional answer. Insist on the true one, and when you have heard it you will know the kind of person you are.
–AW Tozer (h/t Dr. Chuck DeGroat)
I had the privilege of spending a long weekend these past few days in western Pennsylvania under the kindness and hospitality of my girlfriend and her family. It’s a place that is hard to describe without falling into cliches of big sky, clear air, and bright stars. It’s near the area that Johann Jacob Burkhardt, my first ancestor in America, settled in 1754 after sailing from Germany and landing in Philadelphia exactly a week ago today. I made almost the exact same trek as Johann and his family, from the rivers of Philly to the rural countryside of unsettled Pennsylvania.
Strangely, in the rest of Pennsylvania that I have seen, the trees are still mostly green and just starting to turn for the Fall. But here, this weekend marked the peak of that beautiful transition. The pictures above and below should testify to this (click them for larger versions). They were taken only a couple of days ago–with my phone (fun fact: the picture directly above this text was taken from Mt. David, the highest point in Pennsylvania).
I can’t express to you the beauty my eyes and soul were able to behold.
Today I’m introducing a new weekly post I’ll be doing. WordPress, the site that hosts this blog, has a weekly “Photo Challenge“, where bloggers are tasked with finding (or taking) a picture that captures a certain theme. See the bottom of this post for more information.
As my Facebook friends know, I do love taking pictures and trying to make them as beautiful as possible. And so, when I saw this today, I decided to begin this weekend featurette. The “challenges” are posted on Fridays, and so I will post mine over the weekend. Some weeks I might take a fresh picture, other weeks I’ll try and find an old one. I’ll post it, and tell a little bit about it.
Today’s picture is a really special one to me.
Anyone that follows this site regularly has probably noticed I’ve been taking it easy on the blogging this week. As my want to blog slowly began turning into a need, I knew I had to take a step back and approach it a little more leisurely.
This past week, our Executive Pastor preached a great sermon on the “I am the Vine, you are the branches”/”Abiding with Christ” section of John, and it really re-enlivened my taste-buds for time spent with Jesus. I knew I had to reassess my priorities. My near-daily blog writing was only possible because I was sacrificing sleep to do it (as I’ve done before), which in turn made it all the more difficult to wake up in the morning and do anything resembling communing with Christ.
And so, this week, I have been able to get up more easily, make my coffee, pour some cereal and do some devotional time.
Well it’s that time again. Anyone that has followed this blog for a while knows that I go through “blog angst” from time to time and now and again. I get into a “funk” and question the direction and content of my blog-writing. By now the script for my whining and pining is well-formed and well-documented, but it always seems to end up at the same place: I need to make this blog more personal; it’s not the right venue for in-depth theological engagement; I need not be scared of putting myself in this thing (as I’ve written before).
And this angst could not come at a stranger time for me to try and talk about my personal spirituality rather than using the theological stuff to keep myself at a distance.
I think the sense of our wants, when withal we have a restlessness and a sort of spiritual impatience under them, and can make a din, because we want Him whom our soul loveth, is that which maketh an open door to Christ: and when we think we are going backward, because we feel deadness, we are going forward; for the more sense the more life, and no sense argueth no life.
–Samuel Rutherford, The Loveliness of Christ
I was sent this quote by a dear friend who’s probably starting to get to know me better than I would like. It really spoke to me.