My new friend, Wil Hernandez, has recently created a ministry called CenterQuest. I am thrilled by this direction and support wholeheartedly this cornucopia of resources. I am also excited to partner with this dear brother.
Wil has a unique background. He was trained in very conservative evangelical settings but, like me, was led into a deeper experience of Christ through catholic spiritual formation and deep, growing practice of contemplation. Eventually Wil pursued his dream – to train people across the entire Christian spectrum to become deep, carefully formed, followers of Jesus Christ. CenterQuest reflects this vision in being an ecumenical hub for the study and practice of Christian spirituality. I was thrilled when Wil invited me, and ACT3 Network, to become an affiliate partner of CenterQuest. I urge you to check out this amazing resource. You will also benefit deeply from Wil’s writings on Henri Nouwen. He is the author of Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities: A Life of Tension (2012), Henri Nouwen and Soul Care (2008) and Henri Nouwen: A Spirituality of Imperfection ( 2006). All are available at the normal places you buy books online.
Wil explains the purpose of CenterQuest in this way:
There lies a seeker deep within each one of us! God is the one who built such a perpetual longing inside us all. This God-given resident thirst, as we may already realize, can only be quenched by no less than the One who implanted that desire in our hearts. No other person has so eloquently expressed this truth than the great Augustine, who famously wrote in his magnum opus Confessions this oft-quoted declaration: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”
Suffice it to say, we’re all on a quest. Either we’re moving closer to or further away from our spiritual center. I speak here of a symbolic center, metaphorically employed by many, including the mystics of old in a variety of different ways. For a Christian, the center point is decidedly God in Christ, first and foremost. But it can also well refer to the center of our souls, our God-imaged selves where God dwells and where we dwell with God. Our spiritual life gravitates around this pursuit of the center—constantly finding, discovering, and returning to this center, where we then claim it, identify with it, stick with it, live in it, draw from it, and minister out of it.
From this broadly held conviction CenterQuest was birthed. The website is still adding new material daily so I urge you to bookmark it and then visit it again and again along the way.
Wil was profoundly inspired by Henri Nouwen’s fascination with the symbol of the wagon wheel—with its wide rim, strong wooden spokes, and big hub. (Wil has written several books on Nouwen that I deeply treasure and encourage readers to find and read.) CenterQuest embraces Nouwen’s firm belief in the paramount importance of our spiritual lives being lived out from the center. Nouwen wrote: “When I move along the rim, I can reach one spoke after the other, but when I stay at the hub, I am in touch with all the spokes at once” (Here and Now, 25). Nouwen “likens the hub to his own heart, to the heart of God, and to the heart of the world and reiterates that only by remaining in his own center can he feel communion with the world and find the energy to move out of the center to help others,” for he was deeply convinced that “it is from the center that we find our energy and the courage to move out to touch the spokes and find our common humanity” (Turning the Wheel: Henri Nouwen and Our Search for God, 231).
CenterQuest thus exists as a hub—an ecumenical center where Christians of all persuasions engage in an ongoing exploratory study and practice of Christian spirituality.
If you are a friend of ACT3 Network you can readily see why I heartily embrace the work of CenterQuest. I look forward to seeing how God will use these respective ministries, ACT3 Network and CenterQuest, to spread the flame of divine unity and love for the whole catholic church.
One of those who recently endorsed CenterQuest was Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. Rohr’s affirmation of this new ministry is both edifying and encouraging: “I like CenterQuest’s chosen emphasis here of ‘Holding the Center’! This does not imply mediocrity or lack of identity. As Henri Nouwen taught so many of us, to hold one’s true spiritual center implies depth, study, and contemplation. In our overly polarized society, to hold the Center is actually a radical, often unpopular, and prophetic position.”