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Guest Author: 
Terri Pahucki

The harsh self-critic is an old acquaintance. She shows up all too often in my life, and in the lives of those I companion. I’ve heard his voice in the stories of men and women struggling with their personal worth. I’ve seen her judging eye looking back at me in the mirror when I’ve failed to live up to my own expectations.

In the mind of the self-critic, life is a scoreboard. Accomplishments and errors are tallied, and we look out upon the crowd to see how high—or low—we’ve ranked. While self-judgment is prevalent in many lives, it is an obstacle to becoming fully who we are.

On the journey to wholeness, the spiritual practice of humility might offer some guidance. By humility, I mean simply the work of finding and knowing our place, and living our shared humanity. 

Guest Author: 
Janice Lynne Lundy

You have to sniff out joy. 
Keep your nose to the joy trail. 
—Buffy Saint-Marie

I find that, on any given day, I may have to sniff out joy. To look deeply, really take note of things. Even reframe my life. I love the notion of living every day with more joy but sometimes we do need to attune our awareness to it. But where is joy to be found, really? And how do you experience more of it?

Guest Author: 
Katie Sturm

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
                                                     —Desmond Tutu

There are numerous opportunities in today’s world to see darkness and despair. Whether news about crises in the Middle East, natural disasters, or polarizing shifts in our cultures, the shadows often seem to creep into our daily lives. It can even seem, at times, as if we are living in a perpetual twilight—there’s just enough light to see by, but not nearly enough to celebrate. Living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, we see that phenomenon in the winter season, as the days grow shorter and the light seems so small in comparison to the long nights.

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,

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