I determined to explore the writings and life of Howard Thurman more fully, more deeply. Mike took a class on his life and writings and many of his books are in our personal library. I’ve been reading Ph.D. Dissertation ABOUT Dr. Thurman while reading one of his books, The Creative Encounter.
It turns out, I read The Creative Encounter at some point; my writing is in some of the margins. I do not recall reading all of the book, but according to my underlines and comments in the book, I have. The writing style is dense so I find myself re-reading parts and still not completely having the words intersect with my mind.
How I wish I could take the words in, digest them, ruminate upon them so they become part of my own thinking, helping me navigate my own spiritual life a bit more ably. The spiritual life is very often about beginning again. I remind myself of this as I read a page with words I’ve underscored or drawn a star next to.
Prayer is one avenue for beginning again our life with God. Prayer is not an end itself, but a way inward that leads us outward and inwardly again. Prayer begins and nurtures the infinite loop of Christian discipleship. Dr. Thurman writes:
“Prayer…means the method by which the individual makes his (sic) way to the temple of quiet within his own spirit and the activity of his spirit within its walls.” (The Creative Encounter, 34.)
Your spirit has activity all its own. Prayer is an opportunity to explore that activity with the loving companionship of God. It always leads to action of some sort, which the individual may or may not choose to engage. This is the freedom we have. Of course, the more we allow our spirit its own activity in the loving gaze of God, the more animated our own faith will become.
Jesus’ faith was fully animated by this spiritual work. We claim to want to be more like him: O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, grant that I may seek thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly. (Prayer of Richard of Chichester) Faith is a choice.
If you are ready to begin again, start with prayer. Begin by making your way to the temple of quiet in your own spirit. Let the loving gaze of God guide you and show you the activity of your own spirit within this habitation. This invitation comes with a warning; it will animate you for the ministry to which you are called, to which you have given yourself at your baptism. This invitation also comes with the assurance that God will never leave you or forsake you.