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.

Guest Author: 
Jerry S. Kennell

Wonder. This time of year we are apt to use the phrase, “sense of wonder.” In a capital “W” sense, not like, “I wonder about this and I wonder about that.” Wonder is something ineffable, something more. As adults, we often struggle with the loss of that sense of Wonder. We struggle to encounter the beginner’s mind, the child’s uncluttered engagement; the unfettered awe at all things bright and beautiful, all things great and small. We long to get back to the garden.

Guest Author: 
The Rev. Joan Dunn

A lightning bolt of searing pain traveled from my head into my neck, then all the way down to my toes. I saw a bright light. Was this the bright light people talk about? People talk about before they … I think I passed out.

It was 1999. After what seemed to be a minor car accident, I continued to experience pain. Diagnosed as having a hyper-extension of the neck—whiplash—my doctor recommended analgesics and hot/cold packs. After many months, I sought comfort from a registered chiropractor.  The pain I described above followed a series of neck manipulations. 

Guest Author: 
Kathleen Hirsch

Patience is difficult.

This week, I wait for my son to return home from college for the holidays. I wait with a tender eagerness I could not have imagined as a pregnant woman twenty years ago.  My pregnancy had been a season of bliss—until it wasn’t. I was heavy and tired, and he was two weeks late. I wanted to “get on with it,” little knowing that parenting is more like writing an epic poem than it is a set of tidy tasks to be accomplished.

Both parenting and a writing life dedicated to the work of the creative, have taught me most of what I know about patience. As a writer, I know that to rush inspiration is tantamount to killing it. As a parent, I’ve learned that to hurry a child past the point of actual development is profoundly wounding.

And yet.

Guest Author: 
Fr. River Damien Sims

As I have journeyed through the past years in San Francisco, I have come to see my life as a pilgrimage. For me, I am following Jesus into Galilee. 

Each day as I walk the streets, I am on pilgrimage. I am on a journey with “Joker,” the twenty-year-old drug user and sex worker who was kicked out of his home because he was gay. I am on pilgrimage with the transgender friends who work Polk Street making money to survive and pay for their hormones. I am journeying with those who are very comfortable materially, but are so empty spiritually.

Each year I meet five or six hundred new people, and I walk with them for a part of their journey. Novelist and poet Michael Ondaatje expressed it well:


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