This Week: Feb. 6 - 12

Published: February 5, 2012

Contemporary forms of contemplative prayer, including meditation, have ancient roots. Christian Desert Fathers and Mothers, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Avila, along with many others, emphasized in their writing and spiritual practices concepts central to today’s contemplative and reflective prayer practices:  “enlightenment,” “silence,” “transformation,” “awakening.” Christian contemplative prayer has also been influenced by Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism.

This week, senior student Carolyn Beckman, invites us to experience with her a chapel service she is calling Reclaiming Silence. This chapel service follows a service last week led by the School of Divinity’s Beatitudes Society. The theme of that worship experience was “A Service of Contemplation and Prayer.” Later this semester, Project Chapel is sponsoring a service of meditation that will be led by Chapel Musician Sally Morris and University Chaplain Tim Auman. Each of these three meditative worship experiences reflects unique aspects of contemplative spirituality.

Carolyn Beckman has this to say about the meaning of worship, silence, and spirituality:

My whole life, I had been told to have “quiet time” with God, but that was about it.  I had a really difficult time implementing this into my daily life because I thought it had to look or feel a certain way or had to happen at a certain time every day.  It then became even harder when I was pressured to do it, making it another task I had to add on to my day.  What could be fun, restful, spiritually awakening or refreshing about that?  But as I get older, there is a hunger in me to know God, not just because others tell me to, but because I am coming into who I am as a an individual created by God.  I’m drawn to anything that might cause me to think differently or more deeply about God, but also to experience God in different and deeper ways.  For me, the contemplative takes me to a place where I no longer simply know about God, but I can begin to discover and to know God.



This dimension of knowing is important partner with the more traditional kinds of theological learning and knowing that emerge in a School of Divinity. This semester, University English Professor and Rabbi Andrew Ettin is teaching a course for the School of Divinity entitled “The Spirituality of Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972).” These quotes from Heschel’s The Sabbath (1951) give students and faculty “food for spiritual thought” as we move more deeply into this spring semester of learning:

“We must not forget that it is not a thing that lends significance to a moment; it is the moment that lends significance to things.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel,
The Sabbath


“Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel,
The Sabbath


“Labor is a craft, but perfect rest is an art.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel,
The Sabbath


“The Sabbath is the most precious present mankind [sic] has received from the treasure house of God.  All week we think: The Spirit is too far away, and we succumb to spiritual absenteeism, or at best we pray: Send us a little of Thy spirit.  On the Sabbath the spirit stands and pleads: Accept all excellence from me.” 
Abraham Joshua Heschel,
The Sabbath


Academic News

Dropping and Adding Spring Term 2012 Courses:

  • All registered students will be able to DROP courses through WIN from January 17 thru February 1. After that, students will have to complete a drop form in order to drop courses through the end of the drop period (February 22).

Incomplete work from the Fall Term 2011 is due to the course instructor by February 16, 2012.


Grace and peace,

  Jill Crainshaw
  Associate Dean for Academic Affairs




Image Source: Ken Bennett, WFU Photographer (top); (middle)