[Heather Choate Davis] When Teresa of Avila & Martin Luther walked into a bar

I want to invite you to read this incredible post (an oldie but a goodie) by my dear friend, Heather Choate Davis

I have an inner conflict between mysticism/contemplative spirituality and orthodox Lutheran theology. I see a both-and with the two, but my ego wants to pick one. As an enneagram 9 (the peacemaker), I stress to a 6 (the loyalist).

Inner-torture, I tell ya…

But in this post, Heather (being a mystical-minded Lutheran like myself — and also an ex-copywriter from back in the day) delivered the spiritual espresso shot that I needed.

A little more than halfway through this post, she writes a little story about what might’ve happened if Martin Luther and Teresa of Avila were to meet up in a pub. It’s such an imaginative depiction. Such is the power of story: making real something that hasn’t actually happened but that your soul yearns for. This is the stuff that truth is born from.


In her entry, Heather makes a strong case for the thing that brought me back to the Christian faith (I’m so blessed to have found it in my Lutheran faith community) — contemplative worship. Here’s a blurb…

Silence is the great gift the 21st-century church has for a noisy world, but rare is the church where silence can be found any more. Instead we fill our gatherings with words and decibels and images and rote responses as if we’re afraid of what might happen if we took time together and let God speak. While the church remains gridlocked in an old argument over traditional vs. contemporary worship, we have lost sight of a third way: contemplative worship. The way of silence. The way that Teresa of Avila called the practice of taking a “long, hard, loving look at the real.”

How do we do that together? Well, as we move beyond the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation clamor we might begin by reclaiming the practice of punctuating worship services with silence, and trusting the Holy Spirit to know how to use it. And, even more challenging for a Church that is suspicious of anything that comes in from the margins, to begin to recognize that God has been quietly preparing the hearts of artists and mystics and everyday saints to show us a new way. A way of peace that invites people in. And calls people home.

Again, you can read the rest of her entry here. Also, check out her music. And her memoir about coming to faith around the time of her 9-month-old daughter’s brain seizure and ensuing surgery (I’m reading it now).

Grace + Godspeed,

This post was published first in The Jonasletter. To get my notes in your handy dandy email inbox as soon as they’re published, click here to subscribe.



Not here on Medium much anymore. Head over to my Substack to see the latest: jonasellison.substack.com 👍🙏🤙

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Jonas Ellison

Not here on Medium much anymore. Head over to my Substack to see the latest: jonasellison.substack.com 👍🙏🤙