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FEATURED ARTICLE: How Information Overload Robs Us of Our Creativity

Recent studies have documented some of the consequences of our attachment to iPhones and other devices. The Atlantic has some scary articles about the dangers of iPhones for post-Millennials and the ability of smartphones to reduce your brain power even when they are turned off.

But wait, there’s more . . . especially for writers and artists. Part of the problem with the devices and screens on which we’ve come to rely is information overload . . . and this can damage creativity. An article in Open Culture proclaims:

[I]nformation overload keeps us mired in noise…. This saps us of not only willpower (of which we have a limited store) but creativity as well.

Drawing on recent studies and experiments, the article continues:

Our brains have limited resources. When constrained and overwhelmed with thoughts, they pursue well-trod paths of least resistance, trying to efficiently bring order to chaos.

When it comes to information and knowledge, sometimes less is more. What we need to do is unload:

When our minds are “unloaded” . . .  such as can occur during a hike or a long, relaxing shower, we can shed fixed patterns of thinking, and explore creative insights that might otherwise get buried or discarded . . . Getting to that state in a climate of perpetual, unsleeping distraction, opinion, and alarm, requires another kind of discipline: the discipline to unplug, wander off, and clear your mind.

It seems that the internet and smartphone age will need to birth a new spiritual and creative discipline . . . that of (literally) unplugging.

Read more.

Reflection: How do you practice the discipline of unplugging and wandering off?

 

WEEKLY PRAYER

A prayer for generosity from St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556):

Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
Teach me true generosity.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.
Amen.

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FRIDAY FAVORITES: CONTEMPLATIVE RESPONSES TO CHARLOTTESVILLE

Hello friends – for today’s Friday Favorites, I wanted to feature a variety of contemplative responses to Charlottesville. So many writers and bloggers wrote thoughtful posts and prayers about this difficult time in our country and our lives.

Knowing that the community here at The Contemplative Writer (myself included!) stands for love and denounces fear, racism, oppression, and white supremacy, I thought that you would want to see these responses. Some are prayerful, others a call for action. Both are needed.

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A Prayer for Resilience in the Face of White Supremacy via Ruthie Johnson

How to Pray Against Racial Hostility via April Yamasaki

Why I Fail to Understand and Weeping Prayer – A #Compline for Weary, Broken Souls Longing for #Peace via Marvia Davidson

Charlottesville via Carl McColman

Our Work Just Got Harder and austinchanning.com/library/ (book suggestions) via Austin Channing

Calling All Gardeners: A Beginning via Mallory Redmond

Facing Our Legacy of Lynching via D. L. Mayfield

For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies via Courtney Ariel

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What contemplative, prayerful, or call-to-action responses have touched you this week?

 

 

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, or just “be” better, I’ll include it below.

Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group or follow me on Twitter (@LisaKDeam) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

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Quieting the Mental Committee to Hear God by Jan Johnson (a Renovaré podcast on contemplative prayer)

Who Are You? by Rich Lewis (how does one become the authentic man or woman that they truly are?)

The Shout of Sacred Consent by Eric Leroy Wilson (learning to live from a place of sacred consent)

My Friend, Francis by Abigail Carroll (on finding spiritual friendship with a beloved saint)

Returning to Rest by Tina Osterhouse (going to the the other side of fear, into a place of rest and companionship with God)

Why I Write (because don’t we sometimes need to remember?) by Leslie Verner (concerning one of my favorite questions – why does a writer write?)

What a Social Media Break Taught Me about Soul-Care by Karen Gonzalez (on developing practices, social media and otherwise, to foster a healthy pace of life)

CONTEMPLATIVE HISTORY: BEATRIJS OF NAZARETH

Beatrijs of Nazareth (c. 1200 – 1268), a Flemish Cistercian nun, was prioress of the Abbey of Our Lady of Nazareth in Brabant (present-day Belgium). She is often studied in the context of the beguine movement since she received her education from beguines before becoming a nun. In the mid-thirteenth century, Beatrijs wrote The Seven Manners of Loving, a mystical treatise that describes the soul advancing in love for God.

I’m drawn to the striking imagery that mystics often use to describe spiritual growth. Beatrijs of Nazareth does not disappoint! In one passage of her treatise, she likens the soul to a housewife putting everything in order. Although housework seems down to earth, it characterizes a very advanced kind of love in Beatrijs’s treatise.

In the sixth manner, as the bride of our Lord advances and climbs into greater holiness, she feels love to be of a different nature, and her knowledge of this love is closer and higher.

The soul has advanced this far because she has prepared her house for love . . .

And you may see that now the soul is like a housewife who has put all her household in good order and prudently arranged it and well disposed it; she has taken good care that nothing will damage it, her provision for the future is wise, she knows exactly what she is doing, she acquires and discards, she does what is proper, she avoids mistakes, and always she knows how everything should be.

I suppose that calling anyone or anything a “housewife” sounds a little out of date today. I wouldn’t want to be called that! And Beatrijs’s standards for housework seem impossibly high. But I do like the image of the soul bustling around preparing and making room for love.

The rewards of this spiritual work are great. When the inner house is ready, love moves in, and the soul is able to have a “close comprehension of God.”

And then love makes the soul so bold that it no longer fears man nor friend, angel or saint or God himself in all that it does or abandons, in all its working and resting. And now the soul feels indeed that love is within it, as mighty and as active when the body is at rest as when it performs many deeds.

Does Beatrijs’s household imagery resonate with you? Can you picture your soul bustling around preparing an inner home for love? For more examples of this kind of imagery in medieval devotional literature, see the post Finding Christ in the Kitchen by Louise Campion.

For more on Beatrijs of Nazareth, see, among other sources, Medieval Women’s Visionary Literature by Elizabeth Alvilda Petroff.

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, or just “be” better, I’ll include it below.

Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group, comment on today’s post on my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (@LisaKDeam) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

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Resting Takes a Lot of Work? via Ed Cyzewski (Why is rest so much work?? Read Ed’s take.)

The Spiritual Practice of Honoring Milestones via Jean Wise (honoring the stones along the path of life)

For the Well-Seekers via Caris Adel (“there is a place for you, where your words are wanted, where your feelings are not too much, where the loneliness can be abated.”)

The Belly of the Whale via Richard Rohr (the way of descent in the spiritual life)

Are You Real? via Seth Haines (in a digital world, what does it mean to be real?)

The Adventurous World of Medieval Maps via Lisa Deam (on the Spark My Muse podcast, I am interviewed about medieval maps as guides for our spiritual journey)

State of the Blog Union via Tsh Oxenreider (what does the changing world of blogging mean for you, your writing, and your voice?)

Tweet of the week:

 

FEATURED ARTICLE: Every Christian is a Mystic

This article in Seedbed is a couple years old, but it’s one of my favorite pieces of writing on Christian mysticism. Why? Because it takes some of the mystery out of mysticism. We often think that a mystical experience must be ecstatic, perhaps involving tears and visions. Or that it’s the preserve of a very saintly kind of person.

Donald Richmond, a clergyman and a Benedictine oblate, explains that this is not the case. Mysticism is not only practical but also essential to a vibrant, everyday faith   it “is central to the revealed religion of the Bible.” Every Christian who longs to encounter God, who wants her faith to be real and lived, is a mystic. Richmond writes:

When we read our Bibles . . . mystical experiences were frequently referenced. Enoch walked with God. Moses had his burning bush. Abraham entertained “angels.” Gideon spoke with “God.” Samson experienced supernatural strength. Mary spoke with an angel. The disciples saw Jesus transfigured and personally worked wonders. Mysticism is Bible-based religion.

What is mysticism, why does it matter, and how are we practical mystics? The answer to these questions partially resides in formulating a proper definition. After many years of thought, I have arrived at the following: Mysticism is a direct encounter with God by Christ through the Holy Spirit as often (although not always) mediated through Holy Scripture, Sacraments, and Christians living as “saints.”

Christian mysticism is direct encounter. That is, mysticism is experiential religion. It is philosophy (the love of wisdom) practiced.

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Practical mysticism matters. We are hardwired for an experiential faith. We want to “know” penetratingly intense intimacy with God. When the Psalmist wrote, “my flesh yearns for [God],” his words highlighted both desert experience and ardent desire.

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Read more.

Reflection: Have you ever thought of yourself as a mystic?

WEEKLY PRAYER

A prayer from St. Ambrose:

O God, creation’s secret force,
Thyself unmoved, all motion’s source,
Who from the morn til evening ray,
Through all its changes guidest the day.

Come, Holy Ghost, with God the Son,
And God the Father, ever one;
Shed forth Thy grace within our breast,
And dwell with us a ready guest.

By every power, by heart and tongue,
By act and deed, Thy praise be sung;
Inflame with perfect love each sense,
That others’ souls may kindle thence.

O Father, that we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ, Thine only Son.
Who, with the Holy Ghost, and Thee
Still live and reign eternally.

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