My First Mystical Experience

It was an autumn afternoon at Vassar College. I had stayed up the previous night writing a paper. I turned the paper in at an office across campus and began walking back to my dorm room, eager to rest. Soon, it would be nightfall. The cold wind blew across my face. Leaves fell along my path. Gothic architecture merged into the shadows. Tombstones in the nearby cemetery reflected the last vestiges of sunlight.

It was the fall semester of my junior year. The summer before I had backpacked through Europe, racing through seven countries in four weeks. The trip had opened up something inside me. The dam clogging the river of my emotions had burst, and when I returned to school that fall, I knew something big was happening. I changed dorms, moving from a busy one in the center of the quad to a quieter one on the far side of campus. Whereas I had spent my first two years at Vassar constantly socially engaged, I kept more to myself that fall. And things were shifting. From deep within the c…

The Process Of Publishing My Book

I have been sitting on these writings for, literally, ten years.  Most of them were written when I lived at a silent Benedictine monastery under The Episcopal Church.  At the time, I wrote down everything that happened in my life in about a six month period.  This included time spent apart from the monastery and adventures into the city life and social life of a 30 year-old, Beatnik type character: myself.  This resulted in a strange amalgam of contemplative-religion-meets-On-The-Road.  I made a few half-hearted attempts to contact literary agents, and then, after re-reading the book, and feeling lukewarm about it, stuck it on the shelf.  I just didn't like it anymore.  It couldn't quite decide what it wanted to be, and I couldn't quite decide if I even cared.

But as years passed, the manuscript weighed down the creative space inside me, like stuffing too many boxes in the attic and then realizing later you need the space for something else. Julia Cameron, in The Artist&#…

Podcast Interviews Of Spiritual Teachers: The Fan Favorites

I have a few interviews which stand out during my short tenure doing The Graveyard Cowboy At Midnight.  Here are a few interviews I think you would like....

1. Bill Epperly, Ph.D, an advanced seeker and student of Ken Wilber and Integral Spirituality, talks to me about viewing everyday living and the created world as a perpetual opportunity for growth.  The mystic path isn't all about withdrawal and silence; there is stuff here now, in these buys streets, that lead ever-so-beautifully to God.

2. Steve Austin.  The Patheos writer shares some of his personal experiences of wounding and recovery within the Christian tradition.

3. Rich Lewis.  Most recently I talked to Rich about his journey in centering prayer and the transformative power of contemplative practice.

Clint Sabom is an award-winning writer and former aspirant monk.   His book Preparation For Great Light is available on Amazon here

Returning To Sacred Mystery: How The Mind of God Transcends Our Limitations

The Protestant reformation had a valid point in its rebellion against the practices it perceived to be idolatrous.After all, there is no God but God, and no earthly things - whether people, statues, or cathedrals - can substitute for the Eternal and Infinite nature of a God that always eludes the conscious understanding of our finite minds.Everything in this world remains imperfect, and it's good to be reminded of that.Likewise, the same applies to spiritual experiences and the mysticism that I often discuss in this blog.Whether being filled with the Holy Spirit in ecstatic reverie or resting in the Presence of God during centering prayer, one's experience of the divine is never completely pure.The Spirit enters through the tainted vessel of our humanity, and if one takes original sin seriously, then it obviously follows that our own understanding of God will be distorted by our own mortal imperfections.
Humility. Rarely, though, do we hear this mentality applied to doctrine or…

Repeating The Jesus Prayer Constantly: Fear No Evil

I never like when monks and spiritual teachers of some kind give warnings about mystical practices.  And it's something you hear across religious traditions, caveats about approaching sacred practices in a cavalier manner.  Sure, there are peak-experience junkies seeking highs in religious experience the same way addicts may cling to their drug of choice, but, by and large, it seems to be more of a problem that people don't do spiritual practices enough.  Church attendance goes down; disillusionment with organized religion goes up; and then I read some article by a  theologian saying "be careful" with the Jesus Prayer, don't say it any more than 15 minutes a day.  Mysticism as something exclusive for only an elite few is not a policy that has worked out very well.   As evidence, we can present world history, or, as Leonard Cohen writes:
"We asked for signsThe signs were sentThe birth betrayed, the marriage spentThe widowhood of every governmentSigns For All …

The Story of The Graveyard Cowboy

So, it's a weird name for a blog and podcast about Christian spirituality.  I know. So I made a story about it, and my brilliant animation intern John Tuscher made it come to life.  I am truly amazed at this.

Honestly, "The Graveyard Cowboy" did not begin with all this in mind.  At least not exactly.  It was originally my stage name, or alter ego, for a hip-hop radio show I did on ATL WEB RADIO.  As time went on, I kept wanting to talk about spiritual things only.  I wasn't too interested in hip-hop, or even the music industry in general, so I decided to make it focus on Christianity and do it mostly myself (with some good help from my friends at Dabel Brothers Publishing).  But I couldn't let go of The Graveyard Cowboy.  The name had been written inside me. In some way, I had become him.  Perhaps it's my Jungian shadow-side, or perhaps just a good way to be creative in this context.   But either way, I am happy to have more of a team now, and I am overjoyed …

Becoming A Spiritual Athlete: Is It Helpful To Challenge Yourself With A Prayer Routine?

It's been my experience that the vast majority of monastics and vowed religious tend to frown upon the cultural craze of self-help teachings.  Much in our society is based on 'getting things done,' 'winning,' and becoming more 'efficient;' it is understandable that truly disciplined contemplatives might think true spirituality is being overlooked.  Simply staying 'available for God's grace,' or 'resting in Being,' should be the emphasis, some think.   The spiritual life is not a race. 
Yet I suspect this kind of criticism is more an attack against commercialism - and how it often  distorts old ideas into pop culture frenzies - than it is a discouragement to someone who actively hungers to grow closer to God.  It's also a remarkably different predicament in which lay people find themselves, compared to those who live inside cloistered walls or make a living from inside the church.  Whether it is healthy or not to get more done - and g…