to English edition
there are many people who are earnestly desiring and seriously searching
for a more vital spiritual life. Individuals may not be able to articulate
or even share this inner longing with anyone else, nevertheless a deep
hunger persists within them which is not being satisfied by traditional
religious activity, changing life style, or yet more involvement.
After twenty years as director of the ARC Retreat Center I have learned
that this inner yearning is not necessarily assuaged by more theological
study, involvement in church activities or even participating in public
worship. Here is an unheard cry rising up hoping to be detected and
understood. There is clearly a need for something beyond what many
individuals have experienced religiously thus far in their lives. This
inner emptiness and internal gnawing away at the human spirit has prompted
people to seek answers and solutions in a variety of ways and. The
reasons and root causes for this inner emptiness and aching are not understood,
for the most part. That something else or something more is needed
is clear. However, it is not clear what is needed or how it can be
obtained. It is difficult to know where to begin to satisfy the inner void
experienced by so many today. Even the people from whom we have sought
and expected direction have not always understood the source of the ache
and have often given unhelpful counsel. Helpful alternatives can neither
be easy and immediate nor superficial and undemanding.
source of our inner emptiness and restlessness is at its roots, I believe,
a spiritual hunger: a longing of the heart. There is a deep desire
to be reunited again with the source of our being. God seeks to reach
us despite our feelings of alienation and encourages us to stop and listen,
to ponder and to wait. This is necessary for the radical transformation,
the conversion, which, I believe, is involved in learning to live the truth
of Jesus Christ. G. K. Chesterton suggested it is not Christianity
that has failed but that people have failed to try Christianity. Nothing
other than being reconnected to the source of power and life will satisfy
our inner emptiness. Developing such a vital spiritual life requires, discipline,
commitment, time, community support and most importantly God's gift of
grace. We are in need of depth and discipline.
more than six decades of living I have come to a deeper awareness of the
great importance of regular discipline, intentionality and solitude for
deepening the life of faith. A healthy and vital spiritual life cannot
develop well with sporadic attention, or by hurriedly going through the
motions of religious practices. Our full participation is necessary.
The spiritual life is a two way street. It involves looking at God
and being looked at by God; listening to God and being listened to by God;
giving to God and receiving from God; forgiving others including myself
and being forgiven by God; being present to God and present to myself and
others; waiting for God and being waited for by God; experiencing the darkness
and discovering the light in that darkness.
are few resources available today that are truly helpful in providing practical
helps for moving gradually and significantly into greater depth and breadth
in the spiritual life. Karin Johne's book on Spiritual Practices For the
Everyday is one of those rare treasures. Johne does not provide the
answers nor does she minimize the pain and struggle which a serious spiritual
journey will surely entail. The fifteen week course of reflections,
exercises and prayers she has developed are intended to help individuals
to establish a daily spiritual discipline over a period of time.
There is nothing superficial about Johne's approach to Christianity. She
demonstrates tremendous insight into daily life and into the human predicament.
Clearly Johne's purpose is to help the individual seeker be able
to relate all of the everyday situations, circumstances and experiences,
large and small, to his/her own spiritual growth. It is often difficult
to see and to experience the daily humdrum of ordinary life as a context
for spiritual growth. If the promises of Christianity are to give
new life, hope and strength then the most ordinary and insignificant daily
happening must have relevance as a possibility for growth, understanding
establishes a solid foundation drawing from her own rich historical, theological
and biblical background as well as from a broad understanding of spirituality
and the spiritual classics. She was introduced to Meister Eckhart
by her mother at an early age. Moreover, she had many years of practical
experience in leading retreats and providing spiritual counsel.
lays the groundwork carefully using Scripture extensively, preparing the
reader with a foundation (she uses the rich metaphor of building a house)
before she suggests actual practices. She begins her book with an
overall introduction to the task at hand of preparing ourselves for becoming
receptive for personal growth. Throughout the entire fifteen weeks Johne
carefully builds the "house" from foundation to furnishings to life style
and gives explanatory comments and background before each individual week
of exercises. Each exercise brings the focus back to the participant
with questions and reflections directed to oneself. Spiritual development
is not only acquiring academic knowledge about spiritual disciplines and
practice or about theology itself. Extensive knowledge alone does
not satisfy the longing of the heart. Knowledge must always be accompanied
with doing, with actual practice, in order that it may have power
to transform, heal and touch the heart. ("And the Word became flesh".)
It is the incarnational emphasis of these practices which gives spirituality
authenticity. Furthermore, Johne has not suggested or written about
any practice or discipline which she has not used in her own life.
This book was completed only after decades of practice and living the reality
in her own life. Since her teenage years the everyday social context for
her and those who participated in the correspondence course out of which
this book grew was the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).
This was the context in which her spiritual formation was primarily shaped
and which gave birth to her four books on spirituality. Currently
she is living in retirement near Leipzig, Germany where for many years
she has had a special assignment with the Lutheran Church of Saxony in
the area of spiritual formation and renewal.
Johne reminds the participant to select only that material which is helpful
and timely for them. Helps which do not help are no help she maintains.
The spiritual growth cannot proceed under coercion of either style
or directive. The individual is invited to listen deeply and to ponder
intentionally and intensively until moved by the Spirit to an authentic
and genuine expression. Jesus Christ is the one whom we seek to follow
in our spiritual life. Jesus Christ is the one after whom we seek
to pattern our life and from whom we receive encouragement and strength.
Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Light, who encourages us to find
our own personal direction. This is a matter of vocation not imitation.
This enables us to "grow up in every way" (Eph. 4: 15) into the image of
God which was imprinted into our being in creation and was revealed in
Jesus Christ. This is an important affirmation of the gifts of God
that are already present within the participant helping them to move beyond
the "You do it for me" to "I have the resources within me and I trust the
truth given to me". As we come to accept and respect ourselves more
and more as unique, irreplaceable and gifted beings of God's creation than
we will also be able to become more of that person we were created to be.
We will become a strength and gift to others and be more able to reach
out in love to others.
probing questions directed specifically to ourselves will also challenge
us personally to face the evil within ourselves as well as to see the good
we possess. Our response cannot be placed on anyone else if we expect
to grow into mature faith. The way of life is the way of the Cross.
The way of death leads to new life: of dying to old patterns, habits, hurts
and letting it be transformed into something new and life giving.
However, there will be pain and struggle when we honestly face our own
deep and hidden darkness. As we gradually are able to yield over
our control to the intentions and will of God as opposed to our own short
sighted and selfish motives, we will be surprised with moments
of deep peace and joy.
way of Jesus is not easy or painless or perfect. It is also not without
its joy, peace, satisfaction or comfort. The spiritual life is to
be lived in the context of the full range of emotions, struggles and joys
of ordinary everyday life. The way of Jesus does not take away pain
or difficulties or promise any guaranties of that. The spiritual
life fully lived in the everyday scene is rich because it brings us home
to ourselves, home to God and home to our neighbor. I hope that you
will take on the risk of entering fully into the exercises of this book
discovering many rich and unexpected dimensions of the spiritual life .