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Guest Author: 
Helen Kwon

I recently participated in a five-day training in the forest in Sonoma County inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or "forest bathing," which is intended to help urban dwellers and busy folks to slow down, bring mindful awareness to our sensory experience in nature, and open to a deeper connection with ourselves, others sharing the experience on the guided walk, and the "more than human world." What I was surprised by was the depth of transformative healing and shift experienced by myself and others in the training. What was beautiful, too, was that the vastness of nature was able to hold the personal and collective grief and longing which came up in a number of significant conversations I participated in around issues of power, privilege, racial identity, and cultural humility.

Guest Author: 
Scott Hicks

My wife has been a spiritual director for a few years now. For two consecutive years she had attended the Spiritual Directors International conferences with an associate and friend. Last year, she won the annual raffle for free tuition, so I went along, too. 

Being a life-long lay student of philosophy and the human condition, I looked forward to the workshops and lectures. The fact that it was held in the spiritual “pocket” of Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, didn’t hurt either. What I did not expect, was to come away with this lingering sense of well-being and hopeful possibility that continue to wash over my own condition.

Guest Author: 
Janice Lynne Lundy

My husband calls me a worker bee. I am. I come from a long line of farm folk where work is highly valued. I can get a lot accomplished in a day!

I am also a nap-taker from way back. Many of my fondest childhood memories are rooted in rest. Lying beneath the vast blue sky watching the clouds stream by. Stretching myself out on the living room floor to feel the warmth of winter sun pour through the panes.

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann

Often people ask, “What do three chairs have to do with spiritual direction?” In one chair, a seeker sits describing his or her lived experience of God, or Mystery, to a spiritual director sitting in the second chair. The spiritual director listens not only to the seeker but also to the relationship of the seeker with a sacred Presence in the third chair. In spiritual direction, a sacred Presence—whom many call God, Ultimate Reality, Christ, a Higher Power, or God Beyond Names—in the third chair exists, even when doubt and existential angst may make a sacred Presence seem invisible. 

Guest Author: 
Janice Lynne Lundy

"It is better to light one candle, than to curse the darkness."
—Chinese proverb

Today, in the wee hours, I was reminded once again of how easy it can be to plug back into the Light. How important it is that we help one another reorient toward the good, the higher emotion, the life-affirming virtues that we carry within us, especially during challenging times.

Today, I am also grateful for a few dear ones who have asked for prayers because they are facing adverse situations right now. I am honored that they ask me to do this as a spiritual companion and friend.

Guest Author: 
Lynn W. Huber

For many years, I have been clear that contemplation and action are partnered. My first models were Friends (Quakers), who seemed to have found a way to structure a dual focus of contemplation and action into both their personal and their corporate lives in a way that, at least from my experience, is unique.

I am a social worker and a spiritual director. I am a Reform Jew by birth, an Episcopalian by adoption in my young adult years, and a student of many other traditions ranging from Hindu to Buddhist to Quaker to Catholic. (I am also an Oblate—a vowed associate of a Roman Catholic Benedictine community.)

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann

On 17 August, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi would have been ninety years old. Reb Zalman, as he preferred to be called, died peacefully on 3 July in his home with his beloved wife, Eve Ilsen, by his side.

The weekend of 17 August, many spiritual directors and students of Reb Zalman will gather in Boulder, Colorado, USA, to share stories and celebrate his life and his commitment to the formation and training of mashpiah, the Hebrew word for spiritual directors. I encourage you to join the memorial celebration in person and with your prayers of gratitude.

Guest Author: 
Therese Taylor-Stinson

A group of Shalem graduates traveled from various locations to The Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina, USA. The trip I made with two of my peer group members was a ten-hour drive, one way. We connected with other spiritual directors from the Charlotte Spirituality Center and formed a volunteer team in service to the participants and volunteers of “The Goose.”

The Wild Goose Festival is only four years old, and this was their second convening in Hot Springs, where they drew around 2,000 people. The Goose was organized to be of service to many who are disaffected with the traditional church. Many young people were present—some hitchhiking across the country to be there—as they felt a sense of family and connection, contrary to the biological and church families they left behind. 

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv

Gazing at pink angels in a garden on the Isle of Iona, a bird landed on my backpack. Becoming even more still, I waited and wondered who had taken refuge over my right shoulder.

Unlike the blackbird’s visitation to Saint Kevin, who remained sufficiently still enough for it to create a nest in his outstretched praying palm, the bird that visited me stayed for only a few moments. In those few moments, eternity opened.

The mutuality in the experience contributed to the feeling of eternity: the bird took refuge in landing on my bag, as I was taking refuge in contemplating the unfolding scene.

Guest Author: 
Susan Hill

On the third morning of my pilgrimage to Iona, I got a splinter from the piece of wood attached to my room key. Not a small, easily-extracted sliver—no, this was a big, ragged spear of wood that jammed its way into my fingertip and hurt enormously! In retrospect, it was only a quarter of an inch long, but it was quite painful!

I was late for breakfast, and so I quickly yanked the splinter out of my finger, slapped on a bandage, and was out the door. The pain continued though, and that evening I discovered that a piece of the splinter was still lodged in my finger. It resisted all efforts with tweezers to be coaxed out, and so I resolved to be patient and let it work its self out.

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