These notes from 18 years ago are taken from a day I, along with some clergy colleagues, spent with Cynthia Bourgeault in Victoria, B.C.

The content of these notes made a significant contribution to furthering the process of the journey to resetting the trajectory of my life and ministry. The practices alluded to in these notes have enabled me to sustain a long and at times challenging ministry. I wish all clergy might ponder these words and take them to heart.

Cynthia Bourgeault – Clergy Day at Queenswood House of Studies
5 June 1996

I cannot unlock the inner self by polishing the outer shell.

I desire to allow the oak tree to emerge out of the acorn, allowing the spiritual awareness to emerge because that is what God wants.

A problem arises when I seek who I am in my outer faculties.

When I am ordered rightly my outer faculties become an expression of who I am rather than an attempt to create myself. I do not find myself in my outer achievements, my ability to create something, or to accomplish certain things.

I shift my sense of where I am coming from.

When you are really grounded in God it does not matter if you are the Pope or if you are washing the dishes. The centre of who you are and where you are coming from lies in God rather than in the need to be something or to achieve something.

My sense of identity becomes based in my spiritual awareness.

Being meditative is not the same as “quietism,” which is passive and disconnected from the real world.

The most inefficient thing in me is my ego. When I operate out of an emotional involvement I will be operating highly inefficiently. I need to find the right force for a given action. Necessary action requires necessary force.

We need a quiet profound leadership which comes out of a place of prayer. This looks very different than the corporate model. It knows when to act and can act decisively but is not driven by the ego. It is not driven by the need to achieve anything or to make a great impression.

We need to be aware of what it is which is pushing us. Contemplative prayer surfaces and purifies our unconscious motivations.

When we invest our identity in a thought/emotion it becomes an unhealthy passion, driving us to compulsive, neurotic, self-seeking action.

In contemplative prayer the stuff in you that is based in fear will begin to be seen. The stuff that comes from dishonesty will come to light.

We need to re-encounter the dimension of wisdom.

Wisdom does not mean knowing more things. It means knowing what we know with more of ourselves.

Wisdom is known through self-giving, self-abandoning love. Wisdom is not a missing piece of the puzzle. Wisdom is us become more of a vessel.

Our problem is that we are not formed enough to contain the mystery. The mystery can only be accessed and appropriated by a deeper vessel.

  1. Receiving is the way to experience God. Manna in the desert – you cannot store it up. It must be received fresh every day. Receivingness is at the core. “Give us this day our daily bread.”
  2. Recognizing – We have a problem when we read Scripture; we tend to read it with 20/20 hindsight. Everything looks so clear because we are looking back. This is not how it was for those who were involved in the story as it unfolded.

How do we recognize authority in our lives? It is not always that clear. We are called to respond without clear signals.

3. Reflecting – When we turn our vision on God, God becomes radiant and fills our view. When we focus somewhere other than God, we magnify other things.