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Guest Author: 
Rev. Wilfredo Benitez

Photo copyright: (c) Wilfredo Benitez

Many of us in the postmodern world recognize a yearning for spirituality, a longing for something that gives meaning to life.  Perhaps like never before, we live in an age of brilliant psychological insights and openness to spirituality.  There is a growing convergence between psychology and spirituality, something I’m convinced is an unavoidable phenomenon when exploring the deeper meaning of human life.  Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, the father of analytical psychology, established the foundation for this intersection between psychology and spirituality, and although there remains a lingering distrust of organized religion, the wealth of spirituality and wisdom contained in the world’s great religions, cannot be denied.   Book stores are replete with titles on spirituality, and yet most of these have no direct connection to organized religion.  There is a yearning out there, a search for deeper meaning; and yet many of those searching have turned away from organized religion.  Why?

I few years ago I started a webpage: www.ReligionIsGarbage.com .  The webpage was inspired by a Sephardic Jewish car salesman who I once met while looking to buy my next car.  When he realized that I was a priest, he told me he had no use for religion; he said: “religion is garbage.”  He then shared how he was forced to flee from his native country Iran, for being a Jew.  I listened to his story with no intent of contradicting his statement, how could I?  I knew myself that too often religion turns into garbage - it becomes destructive, persecutory, it can cause great psychological emotional damage to individuals, suicide bombers sometimes kill in the name of God, and quite frankly, too often religion engages in destructive politics.  But, what about when religion is not garbage?  What about when religion moves us towards deeper truth, authenticity, and liberation from our false selves?  What about when religion moves us towards inclusion and community?

 

Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell

The best mindfulness practice is always the one that can be done now.

So let’s go. Find the nearest door. Step outside. Find a tree. A tall one if you can. Full of autumn color. Don’t think. Just look up.

This is impromptu mindfulness. An adventure without an itinerary. A journey without a destination. Agile. Ad lib. Right now.

Watching those leaves at the top of the tree? Superb. How does it feel? The air on your face — is it cold? Your breath billows of steam? Did you forget your coat?

No worry. This mindfulness doesn't have to take long.

Guest Author: 
Tessi Mukrat Rickabaugh

I maintain a pretty active social media presence. As a spiritual director who works primarily with younger people, this is an important part of how I am being in the world. I share things which reflect the values I find to be important: beauty, empathy, love, contemplative presence. I also engage in conversations with people across the political, social and religious spectrum, working to bring these same values to those who might not experience them in their daily life or churches. 

Approaching conversations, on social media and in person, from a contemplative stance means that sometimes phrases or thoughts push themselves to the forefront, just as they do in spiritual direction sessions. The past few months, one of those phrases has asserted itself frequently, surfacing over and over in a wide variety of conversations.

"It doesn't matter how you feel about it."

Guest Author: 
Rev. Brenda Buckwell

 

I am a ballroom dancer.  The conversation between partners, the lead and the follow, is one of wordless articulation.  The lead initiates the story: go here, turn there, spin right then pause … and go. The follow listens intently with the entire body for nuances of inward expression to match the lead’s steps.

Spiritual direction follows a similar pattern. The dance of dialogue through storytelling and holy listening is breathtaking to behold.

Guest Author: 
Bruce Tallman

 

The beginning of an effective solution to events like the recent ones in Charlottesville and Barcelona might be found in listening to three contemporary wise men.

Guest Author: 
Tessi Muskrat Rickabaugh

I walked my first prayer labyrinth before I had ever heard of spiritual direction or contemplative spirituality or even mysticism. It was in a big, dimly-lit room at a youth workers' convention -a huge painted canvas spread across the floor, peppered with a variety of "stations" at which the walker could pause and engage with a question or concern around their role as a youth leader in their church. I remember one station still: an old-fashioned TV, the screen showing nothing but static, a pillow on the floor in front of it. This station invited us to sit and spend some time contemplating those things in our lives which might be creating ongoing "static", preventing us from "tuning into" God in the way we desired. 

Guest Author: 
Janice L. Lundy, DMin

 

Many years ago when I was training to be a spiritual director, the kindly Sister who led the program made it very clear to us that spiritual guidance over the telephone was not acceptable. More specifically, that good spiritual guidance could not happen unless two people were face-to-face and the “third chair” was physically present in the room.

Today, I know better and do offer spiritual guidance via Skype or over the telephone. I have found it to be a very useful modality benefitting some seekers, in some situations, but not all.  Without a doubt, it can have a providential outcome as I have experienced with seekers outside the U.S. (my home), homebound seekers, and those whose lives present varied and difficult circumstances in terms of travel, child-care needs, or work schedules. Grace can move through the ethers across telephone lines and satellite networks. Who are we to say it can’t?

Guest Author: 
SDI Coordinating Council

 

Friday September 15, 2017 9:15 PM

 
ST. LOUIS, MO -- The Coordinating Council of Spiritual Directors International is in St. Louis for a meeting and retreat. We are all deeply affected by the events of today. We met and listened to residents of St. Louis and nearby areas this morning before the verdict. We want to make it clear that we stand in solidarity with the people of this city. Our prayers are with everyone. As spiritual directors, we feel called to be in community with all people here. We see it as sacred activism to offer our support at this time.
 
In the public square of spiritual direction, we cannot shy away from the sometimes messy, broken, even dangerous and violent aspects of life. The truth is, we are all connected. We offer our voices and our hearts as part of what we hope will become a broad presence for healing as this night wears on.
 
If you read this, and have a moment of stillness to spare, please join us in spirit and send your love and healing to everyone in St. Louis.
 
Blessings to all,
 
Kristen Hobby (Chair), Bruce Calvin, Cynthia Bailey Manns, Wendie Bernstein Lash, Sister Kathleen McAlpin, Ravi Verma, Bernadette Miles, Sean Murphy and Anil Singh-Molares (Executive Director)
 
Spiritual Directors International exists to support, educate and connect spiritual directors all around the world. As a nonprofit, we provide a digital community where seekers and directors can find one another. This is the public square of spirituality - where all people are welcome the way they are, carrying their own traditions (or none). Here we all benefit from being open to the practices, beliefs and rituals of others. Here we share universal human values of love, compassion and respect. Tolerance, diversity and inclusion inform everything we do. We celebrate difference and the humanity that unites us all.
Guest Author: 
Rev. Catherine D. Kerr

 

 

I found this touching reflection on Rev. Cathy's Facebook page. Written on August 30, 2017, it refers to a woman whose children were isolated in floods caused by Hurricane Harvey. -- Editor


The beauty, the frailty of life.

Sitting at the lab early this morning, waiting to have blood drawn, a patient more than a chaplain, I’m approached by an older woman who veers in my direction on her way to the door.

Guest Author: 
Jeanette Banashak

 

What is "holy envy"?

 

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