A chapter in the spiritual life

spiritual life image

Hard to say, really, what’s been going on with me. I’m not usually at such a loss for words.

Preachers seldom are.

After months with lots to say, words coming out of every pore – blog posts and sermons and newsletter articles – these weeks after Easter have been pretty quiet. Well, what for me is quiet.

One explanation, of course, is that there is so much to take in. I thought it would let up, this almost-constant deluge of new experiences. But they keep coming.

I sat in language class last night and realized that I was actually forming thoughts and sentences in another language. When I studied Latin a long time ago, my teacher, Mr. Wolterink, never expected me to think of something to say in Latin. He would have been surprised, and probably irritated, if I had. The whole idea was to think deeply about what others had to say.

Why form your own thought when Cicero had already said it about as well as it can be said?

But last night I was expressing myself in German. Not deep thoughts, of course, but my thoughts. I’m not Johann Wolfgang Goethe. Not yet. But I am beginning to think in his language. One day I will even post in German without the help of Bing Translator. And Goethe will turn over in his grave.

Another explanation, a more likely explanation, is that there are inevitable ebbs and flows to the spiritual life. If belief in God, as I experience it, is more of a relationship than an abstraction, then I suppose quiet times are going to be pretty much inevitable. Every other relationship in my life works that way, so why should my relationship with God be different?

Not that God has been quiet, although that’s certainly possible too. It’s more likely that I have moved to a new place – not just geographically, but spiritually. That’s the thing about the spiritual life – isn’t it? – that it never stays in one place. There are periods when it’s loud and exciting and expressive, and then there are times when it’s not any of those things, when it’s quiet, when there aren’t words to describe it.

A year ago I never would have imagined being where I am today – geographically and spiritually – but here I am. It’s a lot to take in.

And so I am quiet. Enjoying it. The relationship.

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

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