Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Faith Postures – A Review

by Rev. Laura Barclay

Faith Postures: Cultivating Christian Mindfulness is the first book by Holly Sprink, a graduate of Truett Seminary. In it, she relates the mindfulness of yoga to the Christian faith. Sprink’s hope is that we can make our faith a fully present reality in our daily lives and actions, rather than relegating it to Sundays and Wednesday evenings. Through short vignettes and assignments at the end of each chapter, the reader is invited to come along on the journey toward a greater understanding of the present reality of God, our neighbor, and the wonder of creation.

Sprink shows how a person can use intentional, contemplative spirituality to move from an inward to an outward focus. By being conscious of our thoughts and practices, we begin to shape and mold our behaviors to incorporate compassion for our brothers and sisters in Christ. In the first part of her book, we are invited to perceive how God works in our lives, take notice of ourselves and our capabilities, look for the kingdom of God, notice where Jesus story meets ours, realize when obstruct the witness of Christ, and learn about the plight of our neighbors, near and far. In one chapter, she recounts her story of being a chaplain in a South African support group for women infected with HIV and AIDS. The experience was overwhelming, but her ability to comfort these women was strengthened by her capacity to see Jesus in the room with them. At the end of the chapter invites us to, “Voice a prayer of thanks for God’s total identification with us, the objects of his love” (31).

In the second part of Faith Postures, Sprink invites us to realign ourselves to God’s reality by seeking different “postures” or practices of faith. She encourages us to find beauty in the monotonous, to renew and excite ourselves with worship, look for hope in death, realign ourselves to hospitality, be contented, become peacemakers, share, show toleration for others’ beliefs, and above all, love. She shares the story of finding hope throughout the last days of her grandfather’s life. Along with her anger and fear, she found ways to remind herself that God was with her and also mourning this end. She incorporates biblical stories and scriptures throughout each vignette to center us in scripture. Her ability to weave biblical texts into her own narrative connects her thesis to scripture and tradition, and also allows for the verses to come alive as she relates each topic to our present reality.

Perhaps the best way that she invites us to mindfulness is the reflection questions at the end of each chapter. Sometimes there are active assignments, like reading about issues facing foreign countries. Many times, we are invited to pray, reflect on our day, or find ways that the lesson intersects with our lives. As someone who formerly took yoga, and would like to take it up again, I appreciated the translation of yoga’s lessons into the Christian life & scriptures for further contemplation. I encourage you to read this for personal reflection, renewal, and deepening of your active spirituality.

For more information on Faith Postures, check out this website: http://www.helwys.com/books/faith_postures.html

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