I have never been able, in any substantial way, to incorporate the traditional spiritual disciplines into my journey with Jesus. My experiences with fasting, for example, have been few and far between, and sometimes laughable. On a national day of prayer and fasting when I was a teenager, my dad and I learned that liquids were allowed, so we went and each bought the biggest peach milkshake available at a local place called “The Arctic Bear.” After going without food for 24 hours in college, my friends and I pigged out at the university cafeteria. Only during Lent one year in the early part of this century have I seriously fasted, devoting lunchtime each Friday to prayer in my congregation’s chapel.

Meditation and silence are beyond me. Walking the labyrinth, as you know from other posts, is a favorite, but I have to settle for using a finger labyrinth, since the closest path is way over in Oxford, MS at our presbytery camp. Hardly a trip I can make very often.

I love to write, whether sermons or these posts or back in the day, song lyrics. But as far as I recall, writing (other than journaling) is not considered a spiritual discipline.

That’s why I was thrilled to read this observation by Stephanie Paulsell in a recent article in The Christian Century: “It is a spiritual discipline to find the right word to set down next to another word in a way that reaches across boundaries and distances. Haunting every word is the presence of the word God spoke to reach out to us. In a culture in which words are flung out not as lifelines but as invective, it is an act of resistance to measure our words against the reconciling work of the Word that gives life and hope” (“Deep Messages,” June 15, 2010: 37; emphasis mine).

Paulsell goes on to note that “language cannot do all the work of love.” But it was nevertheless heartening to learn that, though I have failed at the classic disciplines, I do in fact practice a spiritual discipline as I set down my thoughts here or share them from the pulpit every Sunday.

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve thought of what I do as sacramental in a way, namely that I seek to find in everyday events and things clues to God’s way with us, conveyances of the grace of God. Reading Paulsell’s article has given new energy for that endeavor, fresh confirmation that I’m on the right track.

© 2010 Tom Cheatham

Advertisements