Guest Author: 
Terri Pahucki

This winter marks ten years since my father died. My journey through grief has taught me to nurture new growth in space that appears desolate and empty. In yearly ritual, I mark this time with nature walks to seek and notice signs of spring.  When my children were young, this was a full-blown affair that involved joining other local parents on the first mild-weathered day in late February for a guided trek through nearby wetlands at a place called Goose Pond. Our naturalist guides—two moms with babes in strollers—led us on our pilgrim way.

Guest Author: 
Therese Taylor-Stinson

Mae Street Kidd
8 February 1904–20 October 1999

Guest Author: 
Toni Stanfield

In my work as grief counselor and spiritual director, I have the privilege of being witness to great wisdom. I am the student and through stories which other people share with me, I learn what is important and valuable in life.

Mary came to me as a spiritual directee when the chemotherapy and radiation for her breast cancer was no longer available to her. She needed support to go through mastectomy. She also wanted to do her final work of forgiving all those who had hurt her and forgive herself for all the people she had hurt through her own flaws and expectations.

Mary taught me many things but one of her stories was one of the great gift to me.

Guest Author: 
Karen Erlichman

Tu b’Shevat, also referred to as the New Year of the Trees, falls on the fifteenth day of the month of Shevat in the Jewish calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, this year Tu b’Shevat will begin at sundown on 3 February 2015. During the days of the Temple, Tu b’Shevat was an agricultural marker for the date when farmers offered the first fruits of their trees.

Guest Author: 
Janice Lynne Lundy

What do you hold dear?

This question could serve as a fine conversation starter for a spiritual direction session. As a mentor for spiritual directors in training, I find that associate spiritual directors often struggle with the issue of what questions to ask as they begin formal spiritual companionship with others.

I believe it’s a question of reverence. When we are aware of what we revere, what or whom we are in awe of, what we respect enough to bow down to, then we step into the arena of the Holy. When we know what another person holds dear, we can be present with them in a wholehearted way.

Guest Author: 
Christine Sine

Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev said,God created the world by imagination.” I am very aware of this as I admire the mountains adorned with fresh snow and the pale pink glow of a winter dawn. His words enliven me as I explore the myriad of creative shapes, sizes, colours, and textures of my garden. God’s incredible imagination creates an ever-changing world fresh with new and awe inspiring discoveries. Yet somehow our faith practices deaden our imaginations and stifle our creativity.

A friend of mine recently became her granddaughter’s guardian. She shared,

Guest Author: 
Eve Tushnet

Several months after I'd stopped seeing my first spiritual director because he'd been transferred to a different parish, I saw that he'd be giving a talk on Catholic understandings of homosexuality. Since I knew I wasn't his only gay spiritual directee—in fact, he'd been recommended to me by another gay Catholic who, like me, was trying to live in accordance with Catholic teaching—I was excited to hear his perspective.

I ended up sharply disappointed in the talk. I thought it relied on stereotypes, bad research, and unconvincing applications of natural law. I didn't learn much about homosexuality that day. But I learned a lot about spiritual direction.

Guest Author: 
Jay E. Valusek

Shortly after the sun dropped behind the mountains, I set out westward on the trail around McIntosh Lake, huddled in my coat and gloves, walking into nightfall. As the sky darkened, I noticed my shadow stretching out subtly before me. Turning round to see where the light was coming from, I beheld the moon rising in the east, nearly full, bright as a headlamp. It stunned me with its familiar yet mysterious beauty.

For a moment, I was transfixed by the primordial sensation of being completely at home in the world, breathing in the out-breath of plants, the precious air. Just another animal shivering beneath the moon. Inhabiting again the natural habitat of the human body, mind, and spirit—the religion and poetry of nature.

Guest Author: 
John Fairbrother

Contemplative experience is profoundly personal. Contemplative practice is about entering an inner vulnerability that may mysteriously reveal a sense of transcendent wholeness.

Each contemplative experience is a becoming: moving into quiet through the immediacy of reflection, beyond meditation, toward a peace freed from pre-occupations of pragmatic understanding. Your mind becomes free from distractions that all too easily dominate daily living. The outcome of contemplative experience will likely be nothing less than sheer wonder—a sense of becoming wholly present within a Holy Presence.


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