"Several Hasidim came to the Besht (the Bal Shem Tov) and said, 'Our opponents, the Sages of Brody, persecute us continually and accuse us, heaven forbid, of disobedience to the Law and irreverence toward the traditions of our forefathers. We can endure it no longer, and we must answer them.'

" 'Our adversaries,' replied the Besht, 'do this certainly out of pious zeal. They believe they are performing a good deed, and they take joy in oppressing us. Why should we seek to deprive them of their joy?' "
— Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer and Melinda Stengel in This Is for Everyone

To Practice This Thought: This one is particularly recommended for liberal and progressive religious believers who find themselves under attack from conservatives and fundamentalists. Instead of counterattacking or dismissing them entirely, find a more healing and healthy way to view those who have very different views from yours.

"It is my belief that the use of faithful affirmations is the basis of the dynamic, relational, and holistic spirituality we need today. As Christians, we need more than once-a-week sermons and Bible studies to nurture our faith and service in a chaotic and challenging world. We need an easily learned, relevant, and accessible form of spiritual practice that gives life to every aspect of faith. We need a spiritual practice that unites tradition and innovation, theology and practice, silence and action. To be holistic, spiritual formation must address and transform the whole of a person's life — parenting, vocation, family, marriage, health, embodiment, and service. I believe that the daily use of affirmations of faith can renew our minds and transform our lives."
— Bruce Epperly in The Power of Affirmative Faith

"In some religions, the scope of Attention practice is broadened to include attentiveness to God. A breath prayer or mantra that recognizes this type of practice, yet which is also appropriate for any mindfulness exercise, is suggested by Jesus' words to his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane:

"Breathing in: Remain here, mind . . .
Breathing out: And keep awake with me."
— Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat in Spiritual Rx

"An authentic Christian spirituality is utterly subversive to any system that would treat a man or woman as anything less than a child of God. It has nothing to do with ideology or politics. Every praying Christian, every person who has an encounter with God, must have a passionate concern for his or her brother and sister, his or her neighbor. To treat anyone of these as if he were less than the child of God is to deny the validity of one's spiritual experience."
— Desmond Tutu in The Words of Desmond Tutu

"Faith starts with awe. It begins with a mixture of wonder and fear all human beings feel toward the mystery that envelops us. But awe becomes faith only as it ascribes some meaning to the mystery."
— Harvey Cox in The Future of Faith

"We need the spiritual practice suggested by the comedian Lily Tomlin. She wants us to do daily 'awe-aerobics.' Set aside some time to ponder the manifold mysteries of God and the wonders that abound in your life."
— Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

"Everywhere I stroll I say, 'Hello, beauty,' or 'You're magnificent, beauty.' Each time there is a rush of recognition and delight.

"I walk on a carpet of gold witch hazel leaves, breathing in the sweet scent of the tree's strange spidery flowers. I put my face into a branch full of red maple leaves and kiss one. I study an intricately curled brown leaf hanging limply on a peach maple tree.

"I walk into the arms of my favorite bright yellow tree. 'Hello, beauty. I know you're fleeting in my life. I know as a human animal with limited capacities I can't hold you, but I thank you for being here today."
— Ruth Baetz in Wild Communion: Experiencing Peace in Nature

"Clark Strand wrote: 'I once saw a cartoon depicting two Buddhist monks seated side by side in a meditation hall. An older monk was muttering something to a younger monk out of the corner of his mouth. The young monk looked dumbfounded. The caption read: "Nothing happens next. This is it." ' "
— Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

To Practice This Thought: Be present right now. Don't think about what's going to happen next.

"Mindfulness as a practice provides endless opportunities to cultivate greater intimacy with your own mind and to tap into and develop your deep interior resources for learning, growing, healing, and potentially for transforming your understanding of who you are and how you might live more wisely and with greater well-being, meaning, and happiness in this world."
— Jon Kabat-Zinn in Mindfulness for Beginners

"A disciple asked his guru, 'How am I to attain peace when there is so much noise around this village? Every time I try to meditate, there's a rooster crowing or child crying or a dog barking. I can't concentrate on my prayers.' The guru said nothing, but took the man by the hand and led him to the forest. They walked for some time until they came across a small pool. It was a windy day, and the surface of the pond had become choppy. 'What do you see in the pool?' the guru asked. 'It is troubled,' replied the disciple. His master then bid him dive into the pool, to the bottom. When he emerged from the water, his master asked him again what he saw in the pool. 'It is still and deep,' the man answered. 'So then,' said the master, 'you must learn how to pray from the water.' "
— Mike Riddell in Sacred Journey

Go to Index for Alphabet of Progressive Christian Spirituality