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Book: Flowers in the Desert: A Spirituality of the Bible
Author: Demetrius Dumm, O.S.B.
St. Bede’s Publications, Petersham, Massachusetts, 1987, pp.176

Excerpt from Foreword:

I have named my book FLOWERS IN THE DESERT because it is about the promise and pain of human life that is truly open to God’s wonderful mystery. This is a mystery that calls one to unselfish loving and therefore to a certain loss of understanding and control — it takes us into the desert. But it also gives life a new and profound meaning as it provides a sense of having found the way at last — it reveals surprising and exquisite desert flowers. Losing control and gaining wisdom thus represent another facet of the biblical paradox of life lost only to be found again.

My book is therefore about biblical spirituality. The word, spirituality, can be used in many ways. Here it is understood as a body of teachings about the meaning and purpose of human existence derived from a religious or transcendent revelation. As such, it is sharply distinguished from secular philosophy which limits its observations to this saeculum, to the here-and-now, and cannot therefore accept the validity of divine sources of revelation.

There can be as many different spiritualities as there are distinctive religious revelations. Biblical spirituality is, of course, derived from the sacred writings of the Bible. All Christian spiritualities are based to some extent on the Bible. However, this biblical influence can vary greatly and one of the purposes of this book is to argue for a more biblically-centered Christian spirituality. This has been a very congenial task for me because it is so completely in harmony with the authentic monastic tradition.

Excerpt from Book:

We will never be able to understand the Bible if we do not sense this dynamic and fluid quality that pervades the biblical concept of reality. The great German scholar, Gerhard von Rad, has stated it succinctly:

“Here (in Israel) everything is in motion, the accounts never balance, and fulfillment unexpectedly gives rise in turn to another promise of something greater still. Here nothing has its ultimate meaning in itself, but is always an earnest of something still greater (Quoted by J. Moltmann in Religion, Revolution and the Future, p.29).

Everything is under the seal of promise: God has liberated his people but he has liberated them for journey, not for rest. As von Rad has noted, there are little fulfillments, but only to establish the basis for hope and to set the stage for new promise and new challenge. The empire of David was proof of God’s favor but it disappeared and left an aching void filled only with hope and yearning for a new David and a Messianic Kingdom. The miracles of Jesus in Galilee seemed to announce that final kingdom but they too ceased and left a yearning for the great and final miracles of Resurrection and the Second Coming. We too experience the early “miracles” as we discover love, freedom and strength in our lives but our strength wanes and we are challenged to live in hope of resurrection.

Thus the Bible instructs us about the fact of human impermanence. God has made us incomplete. When we feel the pain of emptiness we are in touch with reality, we are living in the truth. . . .

Table of Contents:

Part One: The Call

1. Exodus and Creation

2. Event-Centered Revelation

3. Our Response to God’s Saving Event

Part Two: The Adventure

4. The Journey

5. Prophetic Guidance

6. Living in Hope

7. Traveling Together

Part Three: The Homecoming

8. Letting God

9. The Resurrection as Homecoming