Recently when I Googled “life” what showed up was Lifetime (the movie and TV web-site), Life of Pi (te movie), and Lifehacker, a daily weblog on software and personal productivity. Capitalizing “Life” in the search engine added an archive of Life magazine photos and a crime drama television show with that name. Life: the media experience. An online Bible search of the word yields 745 instances, including those in the Apocrypha (wisdom literature has much to say on the subject), and the assertion that the One we call “Life” is Jesus Christ. Life: the unmediated Person. In that Life is our life. . .
New College Berkeley’s motto is taken from Paul’s letter to the Romans (6:4) in which he encourages faithful people living under an oppressive, materialistic empire to “walk in newness of life.” He assures them that even within the brokenness of this world and the finitude of humanness, the power structures and endless work days, there’s a different kind of life available to us, a life in the Spirit. That’s what’s new. It’s a direct relationship with all the full-bodied rhythms of listening and speaking, giving and taking, inhaling and exhaling. It can’t be experienced remotely, virtually, or through an avatar. It can be experienced in ancient empires and in our mediated world, too, when we open our hearts to the Spirit, and walk.
At New College we’re excited to see who our walking companions will be this year. Summer is lush and restorative with its long, warm days, but as the hillsides above Berkeley start to don their fall regalia, I feel a quickening in my blood. It’s something I felt as a child as the new school year approached. Though I knew it would be hard to squeeze my long-bare feet back into shoes, my spirit was ready to learn and fit into the structures of time and place, book and community, which would enable that learning. Now, many years later, I feel something similar as I prepare to teach and also to supervise the spiritual directors of our year-long groups. Hearts and minds will be stretched into the disciplines of prayer and study, and we’ll learn and grow together. I feel the lively tingle of anticipation, like the shiver brought on by the occasional gusts of cold air that punctuate the waning warmth of the days.
Part of what’s new for us this fall at New College Berkeley is this blog: a mediated invitation into that unmediated newness of life in God’s Spirit. Those of us who will be writing here are a community of Christian scholars who’ve dedicated our lives to equipping and accompanying people as they listen to and follow God’s call in their lives. This blog is an opportunity for us to share with you some of our ideas about and experience with life in the Spirit, even if you can’t make it to a classroom or to one of our groups.
As the leaves begin to turn and I slip my feet into walking shoes, I’m delighted to make your acquaintance.
Susan S. Phillips (Ph.D.) is executive director of NewCollegeBerkeley, teaches Christian spirituality at the GTU, RegentCollege,
and other seminaries, and is a spiritual director. She is the author of Candlelight: Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction.(September, 2013, November 2013, April 2014,