CLIMBINGTHE SPIRITUALMOUNTAIN

ALAN and ELIZABETH DAVEY

There is a longstanding tradition that God whispers in our ears. He does not shout. It is in "the holy whisper," writes the Quaker mystic, that we hear Abba's voice, not in the noise of clamoring crowds or the incessant barrage of social media. To hear the voice of God is an awesome thing--to know his thoughts, to intuit his love, to participate in his good pleasure. It is both a gift to be received and art to be cultivated. It can call to us when we least expect; but we can train ourselves to become receptive listeners.

We need help to separate the cacophony of voices calling to us from the quiet whisper of Abba--barely audible. Since our wordy world masks the quiet, respectful voice of God, we need to recognize the primary ways that Abba communicates with his creation. We must embrace practices that move us out of lives of distraction and exchange old patterns of living with new ways of seeing and hearing. From our deep Christian past we hear the voice of St. Augustine murmur, "Whisper in my heart, I am here to save you. I shall hear your voice and make haste to clasp you to myself."

In this beautifully written book, the Daveys gently call us to cultivate our receptivity to the whisper of Abba. They draw on a stunningly rich variety of sources to guide the inner journey: poetry, literature, artistic drawings, scripture, personal story, ancient wisdom, theological truths, spiritual writings, and practical guidance. This volume is nourishment for the soul that both satisfies and leaves you yearning for more. Janet Clark, Senior Vice President Academic, Tyndale University College & Seminary

Written by two people whose lives and vocations have been lived out in the rhythms of a large cosmopolitan and multicultural urban setting, Abba's Whisper causes you to pause, listen, and to wait. Alan and Beth Davey, however, are not proposing a simple contemplative journey; they want us to learn to be attentive so that the intimate soft whispers of God are felt and in turn elicit response. Gary V. Nelson, President, Tyndale University College & Seminary; Author of Leadership in DisOriented Times

Margaret Avison, one of Canada's premier poets, is a highly sophisticated and self-conscious writer, both charming and intimidating at the same time. She calls to mind her more famous predecessors--the religious poets George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and T. S. Eliot--as she vigorously engages both heart and intellect. "She has forged a way to write against the grain, some of the most humane, sweet and profound poetry of our time," write the judges of the 2003 Griffin Poetry Prize.

Becoming a Christian in her mid-forties, her life and her vocation were transformed and her lyrics record that shift. In "Muse of Danger," she writes to Christian college students, "But in His strange and marvelous mercy, God nonetheless lets the believer take a necessary place as a living witness in behavior with family and classmate and stranger, in conversation, or in a poem." How she blends her twin passions of poetry and Christian faith becomes a story of a kind of perseverance.

Readers who respond with understanding and empathy recognize both the distinctive mystery of poetic witness and the mystery inherent in Christ's saving work to which it points. Her enduring witness becomes an implicit call for us to persevere in what Avison identifies as the "mix of resurrection life and marred everyday living."

Margaret Avison, in the very best sense a regional writer, is deeply rooted in a specific community which has nourished her thought and shaped her deepest meditation week by week. Elizabeth Davey, herself an intimate of that community, expertly situates Avison's poetry in the rich milieu of her religious and communal life, and in so doing helps the reader understand the acute angularity and spiritual resonances of Avison's verse. For many readers it will be most helpful that Davey shows how thoughtfully Avison reads and innovatively evokes biblical language and thought in her poetry. David Lyle Jeffrey, FRSC, Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities,
Honors Program, Senior Fellow, Baylor Institute for Studies in Religion, Baylor University

Elegant, sensitive, inspiring, and challenging. As the reader journeys into the poems of Margaret Avison with Davey they are in the company of an expert guide to and commentator on both the spiritual and the literary possibilities of Avison's poetry. No dry literary criticism here, but life-enhancing interpretation and response to Avison's often oblique call to Christian witness. Meticulously researched and beautifully written. Davey serves both Avison and the reader very well indeed. Bernard C. Farr, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies

This is a guide for spiritual mountain climbers. In the Scriptures, connecting with Abba often leads to a mountain. Modern spiritual writers have long recognized this scriptural metaphor and explored the nature of this journey of ascent. Drawing on the text of the Bible, works of literature, and the writings of mystics both old and new, Climbing the Spiritual Mountain speaks of the desires and intentions, discipline, and effort involved in developing our intimacy with Christ.

In Jesus' dealings with people in the Gospels, he draws them up the spiritual mountain through dialogue and questions. Like Socrates of old, his teaching method probes our thinking, knowledge, and motives. In the process, he stimulates our longing and desire to reach the summit.

There are challenges, hurdles, and difficult choices to make as we climb the spiritual mountain. But the reward--approaching the beautiful One who is our Abba--far outshines any sacrifice we may make on the climb.

Raised in Canada's prairies, mountain climbing wasn't a recreational option. However, Alan and Elizabeth Davey have merged such wonderful metaphors into this spiritual collage that I can feel the strain and stress of the climb. Creatively unwrapping biblical stories, I see new pictures of faith and life. I'm never allowed an escape from the demands and exertion of the climb. Yet I'm affirmed in learning again what I already know and what is seen for the first time. Their insights provide three-dimensional viewing of the story, allowing me to overlay it on my life. This is a wonderful book for small groups, using a chapter a week, pressing into issues and concerns sometimes we leave aside. It is one I'll pass on to untrained and experienced mountain climbers alike. Brian C. Stiller, Global Ambassador, The World Evangelical Alliance, New York, NY

Like sherpas in the Alps, Elizabeth and Alan Davey become spiritual guides for the spiritual mountain. Pondering Jesus' questions pointed me personally to the success or failure of next steps on the arduous journey. Their depth of knowledge, coupled with their love for the person of Jesus, and crowned with faithful years of discipleship, has transformed Elizabeth and Alan into trusted guides. This book is clear, inspired,and packed with the skilled insights of experienced climbers. Sister Sue Mosteller, Trustee of Henri Nouwen Legacy, Sisters of St. Joseph, Toronto, Canada

Whisper in my heart, I am here to save you. I shall hear your voice and make haste to clasp you to myself.

​FOLLOW ME

Her enduring witness becomes an implicit call for us to persevere in what Avison identifies as the "mix of resurrection life and marred everyday living.

​FOLLOW ME

There are challenges, hurdles, and difficult choices to make as we climb the spiritual mountain. But the reward--approaching the beautiful One who is our Abba--far outshines any sacrifice we may make on the climb.

​FOLLOW ME

© 2017 by Alan and Elizabeth Davey.