My book, Blessed at the Broken Places: Reclaiming Faith and Purpose with the Beatitudes, shows how the Beatitudes of Jesus validate the faith of people in emotional pain. Such suffering may arise from normal losses and conflicts of living and loving or from physical or mental illness.
Stigma against emotional suffering seeps into our religious perspective. We feel that depression or anxiety reflects a lack of faith. Yet, the turning points in spiritual maturing often emerge in just such dark episodes. Christ meets us there, the Christ who died on a cross after crying, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”
Much earlier, Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes, blessings upon the humble, grieving, muted, hungry and thirsty. The Hebrew word for blessing, ashre, also means, “on the right track.” In the kingdom, those who face their suffering faithfully are on the right track.
Spiritual director and psychiatrist, Gerald May, wrote,
“What may seem to us a severe weakness or incapacity may turn out to be a great strength when all the spiritual data are in. One would do well to remember the beatitudes in this regard.”[i]
On July 26-29, 2018, I will lead a spiritual formation class/retreat on the Beatitudes at Columbia Theological Seminary. Of course, Blessed at the Broken Places will be the text. Participants will get plenty of my point of view from the reading, so I will make the class highly interactive. While I will offer fresh perspectives on the spirituality of the Beatitudes, I will prompt reflective journaling and conversation.
The Beatitudes are lovely and lyrical, like Jesus’ teachings on the lilies of the field and birds of the air. Yet, like those teachings, they demand a surrendered life. So in this class/retreat, we will engage deeply with ourselves and God. Through the lens of the Beatitudes, we will examine our experiences of suffering and how Christ met and called us there.
The late Ben Campbell Johnson designed the Spirituality Program at Columbia to blend intellectual learning, spiritual sharing, and silent prayer. Furthermore, he helped me develop the focus for book. Therefore, I am honored to offer this class/retreat for a community that offered so much love, healing, and spiritual growth.
It is my intention and prayer to give back. Come join us.
This experience is available to clergy and laity alike. For further information and course registration, click here.
BLESSED AT THE BROKEN PLACES ARRIVES: An Answer to Prayer
How the Beatitudes Keep On Blessing
[i]Gerald G. May, Care of Mind/Care of Spirit: Psychiatric Dimensions of Spiritual Direction. (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1982), p. 52.