Norvene’s abiding passion is relationship with The Mystery, as expressed in a progressive Christian third way between conservative orthodoxy and secular disbelief. The contemporary term for this is Christian Spiritual Formation, referring to a way of life committed to seeking and following God every moment of every day. Although many traditional tools exist to help a person with this aspiration, because God’s very self is Mystery, this path mainly involves surrendering oneself to wonder.
As Moses realized many centuries ago when he asked God to see God’s own glory, God responded by allowing Moses to “see his back.” (Exodus 33: 18-23) Gregory of Nyssa suggests that the deeper, spiritual meaning of this biblical passage is that the Good always attracts to itself those who gaze upon it. As the soul rises ever higher, its capacity for the Good increases as it responds to that attraction (Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses). In my words, God’s self tends to go out “ahead” of us, calling us, creating our desire and capacity for relationship with God’s very self. God’s call and our response comprise spiritual formation.
This site presents some of the ways Norvene supports spiritual formation in herself and others. For many of those years, her husband, Rev. Doug Vest, was a partner in that ministry. Doug died in 2019 at the ripe and ready age of 99 years (a portion of his obituary is included at the end of this site). We pray he continues to bless, inspire, and care for us all in these days. The poetry on this site is Doug’s.
This site reflects the many meaningful facets of Norvene’s spiritual formation ministries, especially those of writing; workshops and retreat leadership; spiritual guidance one-to-one, in groups, and on pilgrimage; and an overall commitment to live contemplatively, including a rhythm of action and rest, reflective reading and conversation, intellectual inquiry (Doug would call it just plain “curiosity” about the world), regular devotional time, and attitudes of awe and gratitude. May these notes and photographs bring you the gift of shalom, the fullness of peace.
Claiming Your Voice: Speaking Truth to Power
is the title of Norvene’s latest book, published in summer 2022 by the Liturgical Press. (see: www.litpress.org). Claiming calls forth a strong role for the sacred in public policy. America’s founding under the benevolence of God is more and different than the separation of church and state, referring rather to a conception of “higher law” by which “Religion and Morality are indispensable supports” for the legitimacy of the new Nation. (George Washington) Claiming shows how Americans have lost our way due to deforming powers, and how sturdy spiritual practice can restore us to our original intentions. Periodic blogs on this site will say more about this book and other topics of interest.
What is a “Composury” Anyway?
By the way, you may wonder what a “composury” is: it’s a word we Vests created to describe the little out-building where Norvene had her office in our southern California home. Presumably not only did she compose books there, but she and her directees experienced composure and peacefulness in its secluded natural setting!
Home Sweet Home
Today, Norvene’s home is with a continuing care retirement community in lovely Charlottesville, Virginia.