I was looking for Gerald May online since it had been some time since we had corresponded and I was no longer receiving the newsletter from Shalem.
I was very sad to learn that Jerry died in 2005.
Shalem Institute's tribute to him includes a link to some of his writings.
While he was on staff in our former sister forum, Religious Issues, many of us became friends with Jerry. It was during that time that he battled with prostate cancer. I remember his courage and grace during that time.
More than anything, I have been enriched by Jerry's writing - especially " Addiction and Grace." Writing from the perspective of a psychiatrist and a man of deep faith, Jerry grasps the dynamics of addiction in all its dimensions with rare insight.
Dave Kelly offers a fitting tribute in his blog as well.
Jerry's own words are summarized as Meditations.
His friend, Bill Dietrich eulogized him and said, " He was a spiritual director, companion and friend to countless spiritual seekers over the years, including many of us here, and some whom he knew only through email and the Internet." Some of us would include ourselves in that number.
Though a Christian, Jerry appreciated the wsdom in other religious traditions as reflected in this quote:
" I believe I have seen the inner transformation from selfishness to compassion happening to many people, and I believe I have tasted it within myself. I am convinced that although it is difficult as the Dalai Lama said, it is a very real and practical possibility. And I am ready to agree that it is the only way, our only hope. "
-- Fall 2002, "The Only Way: From Cruelty to Compassion Through Personal Transformation"
What saddens me is that, having neglected correpsondence with this great man, it is no longer possible to renew it. That being said, there is a sense of exhilaration in offering Jerry's memory belated con gratulations at his graduation. I will continue to revisit his books and be nurtured by them.
I agree with Jerry so much about grace and prayer and possibility of constancy in our communion with God:
I know now that it is possible to pray in action instead of alternating
prayer and action. It is even possible to think analytically or add a
column of numbers in one's mind without closing off one's immediate
openness to other sights, sounds, thoughts ... and prayer. With grace,
one can indeed flow wholly in participation with God's presence in any
given moment of life, moving through both pleasant and unpleasant
undertakings inspired by rightness instead of driven by will. And
what's even better ... one can immediately appreciate and enjoy that
it's happening that way."
"One pays a price, of course, when one's willful habits of consciousness begin to change. Controlling things is out of the question. And intentionality must become increasingly delicate, the thinnest veil between desire and action. I suspect that what we know as intentionality eventually disappears entirely, leaving only sheer desire as the empty content of wordless prayer. This requires the simultaneous full-feeling of desire and relaxing our ego-grip on all our agendas, even those that are most spiritual. It means a continually deepening discovery that the fullness of selfhood lies not in claiming autonomy, dedication, or commitment-finally in not claiming anything-but rather in the magnifi-cent being of who we authentically are in God, with God, loved and ... embraced and infused by God, and as living manifestations of God's very Self. "
-- Fall 1997, "The Shadow Side of Intention"
Thank you, Jerry. Happy journey!
Other Important Links for Gerald May"