Nils von Kalm

My take on faith, life and how it all might fit together

Category: Prayer

Book review – Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions

Russell Brand is an addict. That doesn’t define him, but it is what he identifies as, and what he has to remind himself of every single day.

Most of us would know Brand as the eccentric comedian and movie star with the slightly annoying Cockney accent. But his new book, Recovery: Freedom from our addictions, tells the story of the real Russell Brand, the man behind the image, and the one whose life was a complete mess until 14 years ago.

Identifying as a drug addict, alcoholic, sex addict, and as having various other addictions, this book reveals Brand as humble, brutally honest and a man revelling in the new life that has resulted from him vigorously living out the !2 Steps every day of his life since he came into recovery in 2002.

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What does prayer have to do with alleviating poverty?

Last week as I taught my Justice, Poverty & Development class, I started with Micah 6:8 – “what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God”.

Those of us who are very justice-minded sometimes have a hard time with that last bit: walking humbly with God. If we believe that we are working for the kingdom of God on earth, then prayer cannot be an optional add-on.

Anyway, I won’t say anymore here, otherwise you won’t read the article! Click below for my latest piece on Godspace…

 

What Does Prayer Have To Do With Alleviating Poverty?

by Nils von Kalm One of the distinctive marks of the Christian faith is the message that the God who made everything wants to have a personal relationship with us. God is both ultimate and intimate.

Meditation on the mind

candle-335965_640For those of you who bought today’s Sunday Age, the article below appeared in the Faith column.

Something I should have said in the article was that meditation is not something I have done much of at all in the last couple of months. I let the busyness of life take over and then get out of the habit. What I need to do is take my own advice from this article!

Meditation and mindfulness have enjoyed a surge of popularity in recent years. In January, Time Magazine ran a cover story on the benefits of being still in our constantly wired culture. Soon afterwards, The Huffington Post said that 2014 would be the “year of mindful living.”

More and more people are tuning in to the benefits of taking time to be still in a world that is always on the go.

As a writer I find that creativity and inspiration come a lot easier when my mind is not racing. I need to make time for stillness and to block out the distractions of the day.
The Psalms in the Old Testament talk a lot about meditation. These were people who knew what it was to see themselves and their lives in perspective. Check out this from Psalm 8:

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you set in place, what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?

This Psalm goes on to say that despite this, God has made us with the utmost dignity and respect. That’s another benefit of meditation. It helps us see ourselves rightly – made by a God who is infinitely greater than we are, but loved in equally infinite measure by that same God.

The Scriptures are full of examples of meditation. David, who wrote many of the Psalms, talks about being still; Jesus spent whole nights in prayer; and St Paul encourages us to “pray without ceasing” (prayer can also be a form of meditation).

Meditation can take many other forms too. Personally, I like to focus on my breathing; it helps me to block out the distractions in my mind and in the space around me. As a believer, I also like to repeat a favourite Scripture verse to myself. Alternatively, a meditation practitioner I know likes to say that meditation can be nothing more than sitting there doing nothing!

Research shows conclusively that people who meditate are more relaxed and energised in their relationships with the people around them. The latest scientific research affirms this, showing that the brain actually rewires itself the more we meditate.

Meditation never promises to make our lives better, but I have found that it does help me to deal better with life on life’s terms. Starting with just five minutes per day was all I needed.

More and more people are realising that a life of constant materialistic pursuit leaves us empty. I am slowly learning that meditating on a loving Power greater than me is the key to a life of contentment.

Another classic from Richard Rohr

How easy it is to lose our spiritual hunger when we are so satiated in our society, when we have so many choices that we suffer from choice anxiety and we don’t feel a need for God. In that vein, here is some more wisdom from Richard Rohr that I want to take on board:

Beginner’s mind is a posture of eagerness, of spiritual hunger. The beginner’s mind knows it needs something, just as children do. This is a rare feeling in today’s treacherously seductive culture. Because we are offered so many things that are immediately satisfying (albeit in a superficial way), it is hard to remain spiritually hungry. We give answers too quickly, take away pain too easily, and too commonly stimulate ourselves with nonsense. In terms of soul work, we dare not get rid of pain before we have learned what it has to teach us. Much that we call entertainment, vacations, or recreation are merely diversionary tactics,and they do not “re-create” us at all. The word vacation is from the same root as vacuum, and means to “empty out,” not to fill up. One wonders how many people actually have such vacations!

We must be taught HOW to stay with the pain of life, without answers, without conclusions, and some days without meaning. That is the path, the perilous dark path of true prayer. It is how contemplative prayer differs from the mere recitation of prayers (which can actually be another diversionary tactic instead of any kind of self-emptying).

Adapted from Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, pp. 43-47

Abstract Jesus

I’m a fan of the Jesus Manifesto and they just posted this brilliant prayer by Broderick Greer.

Thoughts on life…Prayer

Prayer is communion with God. Sometimes God’s no seems like he is not listening or doesn’t care or is not there. Prayer is something anyone can do any hour of any day. God never sleeps.

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