Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holding Beauty in My Soul’s Arms

By Kevin G. Thew Forrester

What if Beauty rather than fear held us? What if we knew Jesus not as life’s judge, but as our “Life-Giver”?

Holding Beauty in My Soul’s Arms is a guide for postmodern pilgrims seeking authentic spirituality transformation. I follow the lead offered in the wisdom tradition of early Syriac Christianity, where Jesus is known as the “Life-Giver” (Ihidaya). The Beauty of Jesus is that his life reveals how “to give life.” Jesus invites us into relationships which make us alive and give us “cause to live.”

In Holding Beauty in My Soul’s Arms, I explore what it means for our lives to be lived from “the ground of the soul, where God’s ground and the soul’s ground are one ground” (Meister Eckhart). We revisit some of the pivotal self-defining stories of the scriptures and the lives of the saints and mystics, seeking their meaning for us when read from the experience and wisdom of our gracious at-one-ment.

I begin by developing an “integral sacramental theology,” which is a theology that recognizes the graced core of creation and deliberately respects, receives, and converses with the various disciplines that study four dimensions of existence: individual and collective, internal and external.

I then practice this integral sacramental theology as we discover anew how the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, along with the stories of the saints and mystics, invite us to be transformed, awakening to the truth of our gracious one common ground.

All too often tribal division divides Christian from Christian, as well as Christians from persons of other spiritual paths. All too often baptism is experienced as a ritual of separation and division, not conformation of union. Holding Beauty in My Soul’s Arms is an invitation to discover that the baptismal waters dissolve illusionary walls separating sacred and profane, pure and impure.

Along with Nicholas Cusa, the 15th century German mystic, we are invited to discover our own prophetic and dissident voice: “God…is the enfolding of all in the sense that all are in God, and God is the unfolding in the sense that God is in all.”

I introduce Spiral Dynamics and the Enneagram as rich resources for helping us to realize personally, communally, and systemically, that health and wholeness is not a matter of ritual purity, but of primordial unity confirmed in baptism.

Holding Beauty in My Soul’s Arms invites us all to dig deep and “mine the subterranean river of Christianity.” In the process we may well discover that we, like Jesus, are transformed into life-givers, because we, also, directly experience our at-one-ment.

What a beautiful gift it is when theology itself becomes a rich language that satisfies and enlivens anew. We are courageously drawn out again into the deep, where the grace of God invites marvelous discoveries, none more breathtaking than the realization that we, too, are beloved. Our souls awaken and know God as surely as the taste of fresh water on the tongue.

* The Rev. Kevin G. Thew Forrester, Ph.D., has served in the Diocese of Northern Michigan for the past ten years. He is the author of  Leadership and Ministry within a Community of Equals (InterCultural Ministry Development, 1997) and I Have Called You Friends (Church Publishing, 2003).


  1. If my child got baptized into your beliefs, would a traditional christening gown be needed for the ceremony?

  2. Here's the link to check it out!