Jan 022021

This morning I got some sad news. It’s obviously been a while since I’ve written here, and I’ve always kept my personal business off this page, but there are good reasons for not doing so today.

My teacher, mentor, and dear friend, John F. Miller, III, passed away last night from Covid.

I don’t know if it’s possible for me to communicate what a huge impact John had on my life, and how dear his friendship was to my wife and me. We always felt so fortunate to have him as both a teacher and a close friend. He stayed in our home several times during his trips to Texas, and we cherished every moment of them.

I’ve already told you he was my mentor. Better said, he was like a second father to me. At a phase in my life when I was trying to climb out of a dark hole I had dug for myself, I went back to college and walked into one of his philosophy courses and instantly knew this man’s heart and mind were both exceptional. It was John who helped me discover the centrality of love, and John who taught me how to meditate. Everything I learned from him about philosophy and spirituality helped deepen my understanding of Freemasonry and shape my work as a teacher of contemplative practice. In my first book, I acknowledged John’s contribution. My second book is in the publisher’s hands, and it too acknowledges John. My third book is in the works, and now it will include a special tribute to John.

I grieve with the thought of not seeing his wonderful smile or hearing his hearty laugh again, savoring good food and drink together, or talking with him about love, philosophy, and the mysteries of existence. But, if any soul could do so, then surely John’s can sense all the love reaching out to it now from all the people whose lives he’s touched. His presence will continue to be with us all, and that makes me smile warmly.

If you’d like to learn more about John, you can read an interview I did with him here.


Jan 052015

Recently, a friend asked about how to “grow in the love of Jesus.”  It’s an interesting question, because “the love of Jesus” can mean either (1) love directed at Jesus or (2) the kind of love Jesus gave.  I think 2 is the best way to 1, but I also think it’s helpful to meditate in a way that is similar to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

It seems to me that it’s especially helpful to first become familiar with Jesus as he is actually presented in the gospels, rather than relying solely on what theologians and preachers have said about Jesus. As one studies Jesus and the way he behaves in the gospels, seeing how very human he was, one can meditate on what it would be like to sit and talk with him, to dine with him, to walk and work with him as his contemporaries did.  These sorts of meditations can be done as a merely analytical observer, but one can also respond emotionally as one would in actuality.  Who wouldn’t feel great compassion and sorrow for the agony Jesus felt in Gethsamane and on the cross? Who wouldn’t speak to him with those feelings, trying to comfort him with a gentle touch and let him know he is not as alone as his sleeping disciples would make it seem?  Beyond these scripture-based meditations, we can also imagine him with us in moments of our own lives, supporting us, counseling us, having compassion for us.  In meditating upon Jesus in this way, we cannot continue to regard him as some angelic judge far removed from humanity, but increasingly he becomes known as a real human being who understands what it’s like to be tempted, to doubt, to distrust, to fear, to falter, and to forgive.   We better understand the love he gave to others, and we feel kinship with him and a more immediate sense of his presence in our lives.  All of these things contribute to growing in the love of Jesus in every sense.

Meditations on being present with Jesus in this way have influenced some of my posts on this blog, including this series: Alone in the Wilderness, parts 1, 2, and 3.