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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.

Guest Author: 
Tim Mooney

A few days ago I was told a few things that were hard to hear. What was said was said kindly, without judgment or accusation, and spot on. Frankly, I thought I handled it pretty well; I was open to hearing it. Until later that morning, when I realized I was rehearsing the conversation over and over in my head, defending myself, and accusing the other. And then I felt it—shame.   

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann

I paid tribute to two giant trees last week: Maya Angelou and Pete Seeger. More than a thousand people gathered on Memorial Day to celebrate the life of folk singer and activist Pete Seeger who died earlier this year.

What a privilege to participate in a three-hour sing-along during the Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center. I was moved to tears several times, including when we sang “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “We Shall Overcome,” on a national holiday when people who have died in war are honored. 

Guest Author: 
Kristen Hobby

On 31 May 2014, forty students aged nine and ten from Cornish College in Melbourne, Australia visited four local places of worship to learn about other faith traditions. At the Islamic mosque in Keysborough, the children discovered that Muslims pray five times per day and during Ramadan they are not permitted to eat or drink during the daylight hours.

The host, Nasirah Cavaney, explained to the children that by praying during the day it helps us to stay focused on God, helps us to keep choosing to do the right thing and to always be kind to others. The children were amazed at the beauty of the mosque, with its lush red carpet and beautifully decorated walls with words of wisdom from the Koran.

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