Merely Beloved: Unfolding the Spiritual Life

I had done a remix of spiritual disciplines based on Richard Foster’s work: Silence, Sweat, Sleep, Sustenance, Sight-Seeing, Spirits (undeniably my favorite remixed “discipline”), and Soundness. But I feel I need to constantly revisit this piece of my life. Something I’ve been longing to do for a while is to glean the methods that others – who are arguably much smarter, wiser, and deeper than me – employ to cultivate their spiritual lives.

“Merely” comes from this quote by Thomas Merton in Thoughts in Solitude:

The spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.

And “Beloved” from Henri Nouwen’s creative use of this as the basis of not only our faith and spirituality but our very identity in God. There were too many good nuggets to pull from his writing, but of course, the most relevant to this came from Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World:

I kept running around it in large or small circles, always looking for someone or something able to convince me of my Belovedness. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved”. Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence…Becoming the beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about and doing from hour to hour…

And finally, the strange word “unfolding” has been almost haunting me since I first saw it in a quote on someone’s Facebook:

“Radical Self Care is the New Art of Unfoldment.”

I’m appropriating this word to incorporate it into my thinking, living, and being in terms of unfolding rather than forcing, coercing, or obligating even.

There is something very basic, very merely-ish, about being God’s Beloved and intentionally cultivating that in our lives. But despite it being so basic I still have the most trouble integrating it into my life on a regular basis. Especially now as the days become increasingly full and busy I feel I need something like this even more.

Over the next few months there will be the writers and bloggers who I look to often for this kind of wisdom. I look forward to being fed and nourished by these writers, and hope you will find some attitude, perspective, practical discipline that helps you move towards being Beloved.


September 16: Breathe by Mihee Kim-Kort
September 18: Taking Time for Yourself by Sara C R Hill
September 20: Grasping and Abiding by Erin Rafferty
September 26: Running Toward the Sacred by Chad Abbott
September 27: On Having a Spiritual Director by Adam Walker Cleaveland
October 4: Breathe Beauty by Erin Dunigan
October 5: Baking Bread by Meredith Holladay
October 9: Reading Books by Bromleigh Mclenaghan
October 11: Writing Thank You by Mihee Kim-Kort
October 16: Speaking Plainly by Rocky Supinger
October 19: Reframing by Casey Wait Fitzgerald
October 23: In the Desert by Derrick Weston
October 25: Walking Tsuki by Kiran Wimberley
October 30: Charging the Dark by Matt Gough

Upcoming in Advent

November 27: Andy Kort
November 29: More Than Fasting by Mariclair Partee
December 4: Embracing Inconvenience by Mihee Kim-Kort
December 6: Following Mary by Corein Brown
December 11: Layers of Paint by Elsa Peters
December 13: Writing as a Spiritual Discipline by Darnell Moore
December 18: Possibility as Practice by Chip Hardwick
December 20: Spending Money by Mark Elsdon
December 25: Beginning the Work by Mihee Kim-Kort

January 9: Practicing Presence by Kate Wiebe (a reflection on the CT shooting and helping our children)

23 thoughts on “Merely Beloved: Unfolding the Spiritual Life

Comments are closed.