Candlemaking: The Art and Craft of Spiritual Formation -- By: Linda Hines Geiser

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 26:0 (NA 1994)
Article: Candlemaking: The Art and Craft of Spiritual Formation
Author: Linda Hines Geiser

The Art and Craft of Spiritual Formation

Linda Hines Geiser

Linda Hines Geiser graduated from Ashland Seminary in 1994 with a Master of Arts degree in spiritual formation. She and her husband Charles formerly worked for Mennonite Central Committee in several Latin American countries. She is currently finishing the Master of Divinity degree at Ashland.

It is evident that there is flowing throughout contemporary society an emptiness of spirit, a lack of meaning, an insidious apathy. Rapid-paced technology, materialism, racism, sexism and moral confusion all contribute to the current malaise. For many, life is out of control. Homelessness has become more than an external reality. It is an internal spiritual condition. The church is not exempt from this state of affairs. Having “accepted” Christ and joined the church, many persons settle into a complacent mediocrity. They are left wondering if that is all there is. Don’t whisper it too loudly, but there have even been a few church leaders known to succumb to this crippling disease.

The spiritual journey, held in the grip of such a contagion, is disabled and paralyzed, shrinking up into death. The process

of inner growth begins to resemble a spiritualized version of a walk along the all-American, rise-to-the top, look out for number one, consumer path. Nourished by spiritual junk food and cheap entertainment, it leads directly into a hollow vacuum. This is a far cry from the vision Christ offers of new life, living water and abundant joy.

How can the chains of apathy be loosened? What are the tools that will gently pry them open and ultimately cast them to the ground? The search for meaning and the pain of emptiness may, in fact, be the vehicles through which freedom will come. God is calling the human spirit precisely through such disillusionment, into a relationship characterized by depth, transformation, and inner at-homeness. The challenge is to find ways for people to make the connection. A new look at spiritual formation may shed some light on the path through this barren wasteland.

Called to be Transformed

The process of spiritual formation is about being transformed into the likeness of Christ. It is growth, movement and change. The word process suggests procedure, methods and particular steps employed to reach a desired goal. In spiritual formation this process progresses beyond concrete analysis into mystery and leads to transformation.

All parts of the human being are gathered up into Christ, integrated and made holy. For what reason? So that we may love as Christ loves and be one with each oth...

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