The Way of the Heart Retreat

This past weekend I went on a wonderful retreat in Northern Minnesota.
The book we used was
The Way of the Heart:
Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry
by Henri Nouwen.

The photo above is the beautiful full moon on the lake that greeted us the night we arrived.  The reflection on the lake created an illuminated path, which I saw as a message from God that He was with us and would show us the path we were to take over our next couple of days together.

If you have not read this little book, I would highly recommend it. Though the book is addressed to those in ministry, the content is applicable to anyone seeking to strengthen their prayer life.  It has been one of the favorites in my library for some time, and each time I pull it out to read, I find something new and enlightening in the message.

The form of prayer described in the book was new to me when I first encountered it only a few years ago.  However, it is an ancient practice that was developed by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the 3rd and 4th Centuries.  It was out of this group of devout Christian men and women who fled to the desert that monasticism was founded.

There are three chapters:  Solitude, Silence, and Prayer.  The last chapter talks about the Jesus Prayer–Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  This prayer is the words of the Publican found in Luke 18:13.

As the Russian Orthodox Chotki uses the Jesus prayer, I helped the group make their own Chotkis.  Above is a photo I took of their beautiful handiwork.

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