SPIRITUAL TEACHER Cynthia Bourgeault seeks not only wisdom but also wholeness in her work and practice. As a modern-day mystic, she teaches countless Christians how to mine the streams of contemplative Christianity to foster spiritual and social transformation. Bourgeault—an Episcopal priest, author, and leader for various “wisdom schools”—is cultivating a new generation of Christians who can deeply develop their faith and sustain their work in the world. Sojourners’ resident contemplative and web technologist Bob Sabath talked with Bourgeault last spring about why it is vital to integrate spirituality and prophetic witness.
Bob Sabath: What need is your vocation responding to in the world today?
Cynthia Bourgeault: I would say that I’m creating a bridge between contemplative Christianity and action. I bring forth some of the skills in the contemplative path to help avoid the usual pitfalls of burnout, violence, judgment, and hypocrisy, and also to bring forth some of the prophetic and compassionate skills in the action traditions to help contemplatives move beyond the sense that the domain of their wisdom is “inner” work. There really is no inner and outer: There’s one world.
Some people talk about the church needing three energies to really be the church: an inner, an outer, and a together—or spirituality, mission, and community. In my experience, churches and individuals major in one of these energies, minor in a second, and have a blind spot on the third. How can individuals and churches do a better job of holding these energies together?