In honor to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, our brilliant (and thoughtful) managing editor Joannah Sadler suggested that we share a gift with our readers. In Issue 8.2 of Conversations Journal, Ruth Haley Barton of the Transforming Center wrote a moving piece on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life of contemplation and action. Below is the text of that article in its entirety, as well as a link to the PDF, should you prefer to read it with the design elements in place.
May the incredible story of King’s life of faith speak to you today.
“When we enter into periods of silence, we start to see things with greater clarity. We come to know ourselves, and get in touch with the deepest part of ourselves. That is our soul.”
Abbot Christopher Jamison
This week the Lyfe group at Bible Society (England and Wales) have been exploring the discipline of silence. It was interesting that the eight of us all chose the same exercise—simply a common need for some simple R & R—or were we all in desperate need of an antidote to the head rush of caffeine-fuelled, busy, distracted, everyday living?
When our daughter was in middle school, her vocabulary list included the word oxymoron: a figure of speech that seems to be a self-contradiction. God’s invitation to be both contemplative and active seems like an oxymoron. How can I be quiet and contemplative and active and productive at the same time?
Last week I listened to a radio program that made me stop in my driveway and keep the radio on—and so long that my wife came out to see what might be wrong. The interview was with an employee of Hazelden, the most famous of Minnesota’s many drug and chemical treatment centers (a sidenote: Minnesota is known to many by its license plate slogan, “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, morphed to us locals as the “Land of 10,000 Treatment Centers”). The show was about a new edition of AA or Alcoholic Anonymous’s “bible” of recovery stories, known as the Big Book.
I am one who, as my father liked to say, was “vaccinated with a phonograph needle.” I love to talk. I HAVE to talk to process certain conundrums. I sometimes am not sure what I even believe until I’ve heard myself say it out loud. For me, contemplation can be very difficult at times. My words are often flowing before I realize what I am going to say.
This can be a good thing. Often it is not.
Or, How Visiting Italy Introduced Me To The Concept of ‘Contemplation & Action’
“This time last year.” Do you ever find yourself thinking that? Perhaps this time last year you were just entering a new stage of your life? Maybe this time last year you were starting a new job, or finding yourself without a job? This time last year could have been the beginning of a really difficult year—and you didn’t know what was ahead, so as you reflect on this time last year you find yourself wanting to go back…