Doug Fritzsche: Growing a Spiritual Practice
I recently read a reflection by Richard Rohr, which included a story about him meeting a Buddhist monk. The monk’s opening question was not what do you believe? But instead, what is your practice?
There are so many activities we call spiritual practice, but how do I find practices that speak to me? When I was serving in church ministry? One of the tasks I approached with both anticipation and trepidation was the matter of premarital counseling. It was a mixture of spiritual grounding and “Dutch Uncling” before the big day. And among the resources I used was a book about the languages of love.
An individual, for example, might feel loved when someone spends quality time with him. But the same person might express love by giving her gifts. It’s a complicated business that can lead to all kinds of misunderstanding.
I’m Doug Fritzsche. I’m a retired pastor serving on the Eremos board, and I also work as a spiritual director. This new year some of my directives and I began a new exploration based on a program developed by Catherine Robinson, a retired minister, and Anna Redsand, an educator and psychotherapist.
The program is outlined in an e-book entitled Life with God, A Course for Growing a Spiritual Practice. There’s nothing churchy about this 11 segment course. It does use the word God in the title, but the authors are very clear, both in their discussion and in the resources that they bring, that the name is simply one of many fumbling attempts to come to grips with a great mystery.
The core of the program is that doing something is better than doing nothing. And it starts off with a very simple set of activities and inspirations. It begins with a five minute daily contemplative set focusing on the phrase, “Nothing can separate me from your love.”
The program is set up in weeks, 11 weeks, but some of us have exercised the option of dwelling on a segment for two or more weeks. We don’t feel like there is a deadline. The segments cover topics beginning with;
- Experiencing God,
- What is Prayer?
- Experiencing God’s Love,
- Examine and Gratitude,
- Embodiment and Prayer from the Heart,
- Listening for God in nature.
By the time the segments are concluded, we have a variety of direct experience in spiritual practice, including journaling, examining guided meditation, music, walking. Too many to list. But it prepares us to plan a spiritual practice in a style and language that works for ourselves. It’s like the language of love. I can buy you gifts all day long, but if what you need is a hug, I’ve missed the boat.
The program is a PDF you can download, it costs ten dollars. I feel it was money well spent and I passed it along to you. This is the web address.
The other address is my own web address, if you’d like to discuss it. I hope you find this a valuable opportunity to expand your horizons and to grow a spiritual practice that’s valuable to you. Thank you.
Doug Fritzsche is a Spiritual Director and retired Presbyterian Pastor living in Austin, Texas. He is an Eremos board memeber and the Facilitator of our Contemplative Men’s Group that meets every third Thursday evening of the month virtually via Zoom. Doug has a MDiv from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and a whole previous career as a business owner and as a photojournalist.