The modern age is in an age of revolution — revolution motivated by insight into appalling vastness of human suffering and need. . . .
Against this background a few voices have continued to emphasize that the cause of the distressed human condition, individual and social — and its only possible cure — is a spiritual one. But what these voices are saying is not clear. They point out that social and political revolutions have shown no tendency to transform the heart of darkness that lies deep in the breast of every human being. That is evidently true. . . .
So obviously the problem is a spiritual one. And so must be the cure.
– Dallas Willard,
The Spirit of the Disciplines
When I first noticed this journey toward nonviolence calling to me, I had no idea where it would lead. I only knew that the notion of love as the only transforming force in the universe rang true. I knew it by experience, and I was beginning to contemplate it on a theological and philosophical level.
It was an idea that would not let me go.
So I dedicated a year to studying it, which led to a summer set apart to study it some more. And that, eventually, led me here: the creation of this space.
When this space originally got started, it was inspired by Seth Godin’s notion of the tribe — one person compelled by an idea to step out in front and say, “Let’s go, shall we?”
So this space began as a community for likeminded sojourners to journey together. And I absolutely loved it. I found myself learning more from the comments each tribe member shared than from the posts I wrote to spark the discussion in the first place.
But then life got pretty hectic and my attention was pulled in many directions. I couldn’t sustain every endeavor. And so this space languished on the side.
It never languished in my heart.
These days, the greatest focus of my life is given to the deepening of a calling I noticed for the first time about four years ago and that has grown louder and louder still, forming into a firm conviction and an obedient yes. It is the obedience to a priestly call, a pastoral posture toward others in the life of the heart.
Primarily, that takes the form of writing on Still Forming, a space for contemplative spiritual reflection where I write five days a week. It also takes the form of online classes I’m offering or plan to offer this coming year. It takes the form of one-on-one spiritual direction I’m privileged to offer others.
And also, I continue to sense, it touches upon this space.
Although I continue not to know where this journey toward nonviolence will ultimately lead, one thing that’s become abundantly clear to me the last couple years is that my part — my contribution — has to do with the heart. It has to do with questions like:
How do we become persons of nonviolence? How does love really grow in us? What brings about true forgiveness? How do we actually become people who love our enemies?
I assumed at one point, I guess, that this journey would lead me into activism. And perhaps someday that will be true.
But for now, it seems pretty clear that my work in this area has more to do with formation — specifically, the way our human hearts become formed and fashioned into a more firm foundation of love.
This is spiritual work. And I think, ultimately, it’s where the truly nonviolent pathway begins.