Charleston, Nouwen: Tools, Movements

Spiritual life

“What are the tools you use most in building your spiritual life? Living in a spiritual way is a lifetime job. There are always areas that need repair and new plans to incorporate into the design. So having the right tools helps. Tools like curiosity and compassion. Like honesty and open-mindedness. There are basic tools like listening and study. There are specialized tools like discernment and meditation. Learning to use the tools from a mentor makes sense and practice is a given. Take care of your tools and they will take care of you: simple spiritual advice.’ Bishop Steven Charleston, Daily Emails


In his book, Reaching Out, The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, Henri Nouwen describes “the spiritual life as a constant movement between the poles of loneliness and solitude, hostility and hospitality, illusion and prayer.” The first movement, from loneliness to solitude relates to our own spiritual journey to learn more deeply about ourselves. The second movement from hostility to hospitality is our spiritual journey leading us to relate to and connect to others. The third movement from illusion to prayer is our journey to develop our relationship with God.

Bishop Charleston gives us the tools we can use in every part of all three movements of this journey. Our job as spiritual directors and spiritual friends on this journey is to be a mentor to each other, sharing the contents of our tool box, sharing our guide books of how we have used these tools, sharing our tattered and frayed  maps of which was the best road to take down each of these movements or paths, sharing energy or becoming a place of respite when one of us on this journey runs about of gas, taking turns providing a picnic of spiritual food as we travel while we journey together in community.