‘Permission to Ponder’ Teaches Stillness in Noisy Society

Ancient Practice of Praying Scriptures Outlined

By Megan Perkins ’18
Friday, January 8, 2016

Living in a hectic, noisy society, how do we learn to be aware of God’s presence and voice in our lives? Tracy Balzer, director of Christian formation at JBU, explores this question in her new book, “Permission to Ponder: Contemplative Wisdom for the Spiritually Distracted.”

Released in October, Balzer’s book focuses on the ability to “slow down, make space for God, and tune our ears and hearts to God’s voice and presence in an effort to go deeper into our life with Christ.”

Through the ancient practice of praying the scriptures—lectio divina—Balzer considers the importance of breaking through our surface-level understandings of God and his love for us. The more we experience God’s presence, the more we begin to step outside of ourselves and become more like him. Balzer explains the effects of practicing the discipline of pondering, “This makes us more alert to the needs of others (versus being obsessed with our own needs and wants), more loving, and ultimately more wise.”

Using the four Marys of the gospel along with the Psalms and Balzer’s own personal experiences as models for the practical application of lectio divina, “Permission to Ponder” outlines the process of being still and listening for God’s guidance.

Balzer said she doesn’t write for the sake of writing. “I write from my own experience and desire for God. … I am one who wants to encourage others to grow in a deeper connection with God.”

In her future projects, Balzer hopes to examine Psalm 73 and the topic of “entering the sanctuary of God” as well as her personal passion for Celtic Christianity. Balzer notes that if she could choose to write about any topic, she would love to analyze the themes of redemption found in the popular Harry Potter series. Whatever writing ventures Balzer investigates in the future, she is sure to continue writing out of her joy for “trying to communicate important things.”

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