A Master of LifeJun 01, 2022
Blog by Alan Fadling
I have recently designed for myself what I’m calling a Spiritual Classics Study Project. If you sat in my library, you’d see a whole bookshelf, floor to ceiling, full of Christian spiritual classics ordered from the earliest centuries of the church to more recent writers.
As I was sitting and looking at it one day, I realized that, now in my sixties, there was a good chance I’d never read all these books, some of which I’ve now owned for decades. So, I consulted a scholar who has expertise in Christian spiritual classics. Together we came up with a plan to guide me through ten classics from various eras of the church. It’s been a life-giving journey so far.
In preparation, I was reading a bit of Bernard McGinn’s The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism. Some people get nervous about the word “mysticism,” but it is simply a word to describe the lived experience of the spiritual life (as opposed to merely studying or moralizing about spiritual life).
As I was reading McGinn’s work, I came across a German word that was used to describe the fourteenth-century spiritual director John Tauler. He was called a lebemeister, meaning “master of (spiritual) life.” Don’t we need more followers of Jesus who, instead of just talking about joy or peace or love, are masters of really living them out? What a difference that would make in our work.
One of Tauler’s insights was that in the highest form of prayer, “enjoyment” and “work” become one when interior joy in God is not disturbed by any exterior action.
Enjoying God and working with God are not separate or different things. We can enjoy God and rest in God even as we are involved in the work of God, whether that work is in our own souls or in the world around us.
We can work with God in fullness of joy, and I have tasted this reality. May God grant that we all would taste it more and more and develop the sort of solitude at the center of who we are that gives birth to profound outward fruitfulness. May the joy of God so fill us that it overflows in how we treat others and do our work. Amen.
- What might be the relationship between being a “life-master” and Jesus’s words in John 10:10 that he came so we may have abundant life?
- How would you like to pray in response to this invitation?