Tag Archives: being

Soul Pilgrimage: Meet Phileena Heuertz

As we wrap up this month’s focus on “being” and transition to a focus on “doing” for next month, I’m excited to invite you to take part in a conversation with author and ministry leader Phileena Heuertz. Through her own faith journey, Phileena’s been carving out a compelling marriage between being & doing — between the contemplative & active parts of Christian spirituality.

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phileena2Phileena, welcome! Tell my readers a bit about yourself.  

It’s a pleasure to be a part of your blog today. I’ve spent my life in social justice work among the world’s poor. I’m a member of the New Friar movement, and for nearly 20 years my husband Chris and I co-directed Word Made Flesh (WMF). During that time we served in more than 70 countries building community among victims of human trafficking, survivors of HIV and AIDS, abandoned children and child soldiers and war brides.

Chris and I founded Gravity in 2012. Gravity is for people who care about their spirituality and want to make the world a better place. My primary work is public speaking, teaching and writing on contemplative spirituality, facilitation of contemplative retreats, and spiritual direction.

I’m a member of the Red Letter Christians, featured on The Work of the People and Q Ideas and known for my theological narrative, Pilgrimage of a Soul (IVP 2010).

Pilgrimage of a Soul - phileenaYour book Pilgrimage of a Soul describes a bit of your own journey from working as a missionary among the world’s poor to a much-needed sabbatical that eventually revolutionized your faith. Can you tell my readers a bit of your story? 

Sure. I had spent many years serving among people in poverty—children and families affected by HIV and AIDS in India; women and girls enslaved in the commercial sex industry all over Southeast Asia and South America; children living on the streets in urban centers across the globe. And I thought I’d seen it all—the worse of poverty and injustice. But then my work took me to Freetown, Sierra Leone at the peak of the war over blood diamonds.

The human brutality I witnessed in Freetown was like nothing I’d ever seen. Young girls forced to watch the horrific amputation and murder of their parents, taken as “war brides” and subjected to every form of abuse—often gang-raped.

Boys as young as 5 and 6, forced to amputate the arm of their parents or be brutalized themselves, conscripted into the military or rebel army, given drugs and involuntarily compelled to carry weapons that were at times too heavy for them and forced to commit unspeakable crimes of massacre, murder and rape.

I returned from Freetown empty of answers for the world’s problems and questioning God’s goodness. This crisis of faith plunged me into a classic wrestling with God scenario in which I became very aware of my limitations and deep need for God. Continue reading


Cease . . . Embrace

2 long days in the car with 2 adults and 3 kids. A few traffic jams. 78 Waffle House restaurants passed. And then we arrived here. P1040015

And it was all worth it.

A much (much, much, much, much) needed break. Family time. Laughter. Adventures. Discoveries. And, aaaaaaaaaah!, basking in tremendous beauties  — both big and soaring and those hidden, miniscule, beneath my feet. The beauties of breeze and bird and sea and sky. (Oh, and alligators, too. And did I mention manatees?)

It was a Sabbath of Sabbaths for me. No, not a Sunday nor a day of rule-keeping. But a family vacation. As the Brits call it, a holiday.

These were, indeed, holy-days for us. Days of rest, of play, and of being. And they remind me anew of the Sabbath-moments we all need, outside of scheduled retreats from reality and woven within the sometimes frayed fabric of everyday normality.

In The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan urges us to live within a Sabbath-attitude: “[D]o you play enough?” Continue reading

Sunsets, Vistas, Bees, and Worms

There’s nothing like a stunning sunset or a nighttime sky flung with brilliant stars to put it all into perspective. To pause, be still at the end of a busy day, and take the time to whisper wow. To see beauty and wonder, power and loveliness, all interwoven together.

You’ve probably  had similar soul-wow moments. A notable one for me was our family’s trip to the Grand Canyon in 2010.  The glory of it wasn’t comforting — it was unsettling. It is so utterly gigantic and so shockingly beautiful that its disconcerting. It made me feel small — like a little bug — in the face of this humongous work of art and the churning river snaking at the very bottom, far below.

When we take the time to pause and notice, our everyday-world is filled with similar opportunities to pause and say “wow.” Continue reading

Meet My Friend . . . Keri Wyatt Kent

Author Keri Wyatt Kent speaks my language. Her books deal with the deep longings of our souls — intermixed with an honest view of the hectic reality we sometimes find ourselves in. She encourages us to make choices that draw us into a right rhythm with God and with others. I’m so grateful she popped in to speak with us today about a topic that is really, really important and also really, really tough to figure out sometimes: Sabbath. Keep on reading!

Keri, can you tell my readers a little about yourself? 

I’m the working mom of two teens, and for the past year or two, God has given me the opportunity to serve as our family’s primary breadwinner—although God of course is our primary provider. Last year, I had four different book projects published. Despite these pressures and workload, I took every Sunday off to rest.

The title of your book, Rest, simply draws me in. What an inviting — and needed — word in our lives! What motivated you to write it?

I had written about Sabbath (and other spiritual practices) in a previous book, Breathe. Many people seemed interested in the practice of Sabbath, many of them had an interest that centered on debate—thinking that it was impossible. So it was a subject that needed a more extensive explanation.

I know that for you the idea of Sabbath-keeping has been a journey. So how have your views and practices changed over the years? Continue reading

40 Days of Being

Lent begins today. I’m from a non-liturgical church tradition that generally doesn’t observe Lent, but it has become a meaningful time for me personally each year to intentionally reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf and to anticipate the joy we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday.

If you’re interested in doing something special for Lent this year, here’s a fun idea  for families involving baking  and eating something yummy (it’s an annual tradition for us!).

Another meaningful way to observe Lent is to fast; for inspiration if you’re considering fasting, reflect on the ideas here, here, and here.

Stay tuned because our next blog post will feature an interview with an amazing Christian writer, Keri Wyatt Kent, who will share thoughts about rest, Sabbath-keeping, and how these practices can work in the reality of our busy, modern-day lives.

Knitting, Reflecting, Being

I had a chance to interview spiritual formation writer Adele Ahlberg Calhoun about getting to know our mysterious God. Her thoughts were absolutely compelling. Read the resulting article here.

Learning Be-ing

Perhaps the title of the post should instead be “Un-learning Do-ing.” Doing, of course, is not a bad thing. What we do is very important to God in many ways and is part of who he made us to be–and we will explore that in an upcoming month.

But in our discussion of be-ing, do-ing can be a real danger. It is dangerous when what we do entirely defines who we are. It is even more dangerous, I think, when doing becomes inextricably linked with how we “use” time–When everything must be utilitarian, practical, or some sort of accomplishment. And it can be especially dangerous when doing = contentment and goodness while non-doing = discontent and discomfort that must be avoided at all costs. Continue reading


There, I said it.

It felt great.

It’s a word that needs to be said often.

I’m not talking about disciplining children (my kids hear “no!” plenty in that context).

I’m talking about the personal spiritual discipline of saying “no” so that we can more fully say “yes.”

Consider these words from M. Shawn Copeland in Practicing Our Faith (Jossey-Bass):

“[S]pirituality is not a spectator activity. Tough decisions and persistent effort are required of those who seek lives that are whole and holy. If we are to grow in faithful living, we need to renounce the things that choke off the fullness of life that God intended for us . . . We must learn the practice of saying no to that which crowds God out and yes to a way of life that makes space for God.”

It’s a topic I’ve written about before, but I find it’s something I need to regularly remind myself about: Continue reading

Lessons on Be-ing

We’ve just wrapped up a month of focusing on gratitude. This month’s focus: be.

We’ll look at God’s good gift of rest this month, explore principles of Sabbath-keeping, and consider how we might fast from busyness, at least for awhile. As a do-er by nature, I need repeated lessons from God on how to simply be.

I got one such lesson this past Monday. After several nights of sleep deprivation caring for two daughters with high fevers, I felt like I’d hit a wall. I was strung out on caffeine, doing my best to get through the day, living the sometimes-frazzled-mom-life, and really looking forward to some sleep.

And then I literally hit a wall. Continue reading