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Guest Author: 
Tessi Rickabaugh

My spiritual director is trying to help me reimagine how I make decisions. Sometimes I wonder if she regrets having taken on such a monumental job.

"I don't know if I should go to my dad's for the holiday," I say plaintively, wanting her to just tell me what I should do, so I don't have to make a decision that I know is going to upset someone. "I really don't want to go," I continue, hoping to goad her into giving advice even though, as a spiritual director myself, I should know better. "If I don't go, he'll be upset, and it's been a while, so I feel like I should go..." I trail off, looking at her, still hopeful.

Guest Author: 
Carissa A. Kane

Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,
Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,
Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones,
Now hear the word of the Lord.

Toe bone connected to the foot bone
Foot bone connected to the heel bone
Heel bone connected to the ankle bone
Ankle bone connected to the shin bone
Shin bone connected to the knee bone
Knee bone connected to the thigh bone
Thigh bone connected to the hip bone
Hip bone connected to the back bone
Back bone connected to the shoulder bone
Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone
Neck bone connected to the head bone
Now hear the word of the Lord.

Guest Author: 
Lisa Griffin-Seidel

Transformation is a word that carries a lot of weight. If you look up transformation, the dictionary says:

A thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance: Its landscape has undergone a radical transformation.

In order to change, transform, or evolve, I believe we have to look inward.

Guest Author: 
Tessi Rickabaugh

"For God to make love," Hafiz says, "for the divine alchemy to work, the Pitcher needs a still cup."

I love the image this snippet of poem conjures: a pitcher poised above me, ready to pour down a drenching cascade of love, if only I can be still long enough for the hand holding the pitcher to aim.

Guest Author: 
Lauren Burdette

My younger son wakes with the first light of dawn. The rays cross his sleeping form so gently, their light still pale and grey. He bursts awake, full of life, and ready for the day. By contrast, his older brother sleeps until I come in and open the curtains, the light of the fully risen sun pouring across him, and inevitably, he rolls over with a scowl, moaning, “It’s too bright!”

Guest Author: 
Carissa Kane

Joy springs from deep within, pure and unadulterated and radiates outward. Serene, yet palpable is joy. While happiness is also palpable, it springs from the external. Joy, on the other hand, comes from within and is not dependent on external things. I believe I can choose to be happy, but I cannot choose to be joyous.

Joy seems to be a gift that comes with a grateful heart, often following times of putting God and others first. I find I discover joy at times of allowing myself to be led to—or by—God into selflessness by turning oneself over completely to the Divine.

I find joy is a grace bestowed on moments of unity with God. It is the ultimate sense of fulfillment. While joy is often associated with moments of happiness, it can also be found in challenging moments, or even moments of sadness.

Guest Author: 
Lauren K. Carlson

“Absolutely all unmixed attention is prayer.” This quote, from French philosopher Simon Weil, succinctly expresses why spiritual companionship is a powerful and worthy exercise. At its root, spiritual direction is a form of deep attention—a prayer. Moreover, spiritual direction is precisely the form of prayer that contemporary culture increasingly lacks.

“The emergence of the internet is deeply related to an expanding sense of human discourse as open-ended, decentered, constantly under revision and centrifugal in its effects” Jerry Harp writes in his essay on apophatic theology and poetics. As human discourse multiplies, unmixed attention becomes increasingly rare. Harp goes on to clarify, “these effects are neither entirely inevitable, nor new.” And, I might add, not necessarily negative.

Guest Author: 
Jean Wise

I watched the scrawny seventh grader nervously face the altar to light the candles. This was his first time as the acolyte and I could tell he wanted to do everything perfectly.

He slowly approached the altar and bowed before going up the steps. He lit each candle slowly, carefully being sure each one took the flame.

Turning towards the altar one more time, he bowed again. Then he paused and just stared as if he was listening or perhaps seeing God.

I saw reverence that day.

The act of bowing demonstrates respect. Leaning forward in a vulnerable posture acknowledges our recognition that the life we are greeting is precious, appreciated, and even loved.

Guest Author: 
Tessi Muskrat Rickabaugh

“We are called to intentional, deliberate vulnerability.”
Rule of the Northumbria Community

I don’t know what to do! I want to follow God, but I keep doubting and struggling! The deaf teen’s sign language was big and abrupt in her anger. There must be something wrong with me. Tears began to spill over as she signed. YOU never doubt or struggle, so I must just be messed up.

Guest Author: 
Janice Lynne Lundy

“How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all of its beauty?
It feels the encouragement of Light against its being;
otherwise we all remain too frightened.”
—Hafiz, Love Poems from God, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

I adore this offering by the Persian poet Hafiz because it reminds me of our true nature, as well as what can happen when we forget or deny it. You are a rose and I am too—beings of great beauty. Our open and loving hearts are the expression of this beauty and all the “virtues of the spirit” to which we aspire.

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