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Guest Author: 
Paul Burgmayer

 

Editor's Note: The author of this post, Paul Burgmayer,  generously shared the above quote with me. He told me his hope with new directees is to "help them to begin the process of finding and naming that fire. As we begin the relationship, I want to both facilitate that and avoid anything that would get in its way." Well said, Paul. Amen.


Spiritual direction depends on creating strong relationships. And relationships depend on trust. That means building trust is essential. But what are good ways to do this? And how can we begin a trusting relationship with seekers who have little objective knowledge of spiritual direction and no subjective experience? [1]

In eight years of practice, I’ve seen 19 new directees: 14 had never experienced direction; 9 began with began with no explicit prayer life.

Over the years, I’ve developed some practices that I want to share here. I don’t write this because I see my see myself as an authority. Quite the contrary. I write in hope that my experience will trigger a discussion so we all can share ideas and learn from each other.

Guest Author: 
Aaron Hurst

Editor's Note: Aaron Hurst founded the Taproot Foundation, which connects nonprofits and social change organizations with skilled volunteers who share their expertise pro bono. Taproot has delivered more than $152 million in pro bono services. (Not too shabby.) He now heads a "for-benefit" company dedicated to helping people and organizations find purpose in work. He's a  true social entrepreneur. But what we didn't know is that he embodies what our executive director, Anil Singh-Molares, calls the spiritual "public square." Read this delightful post, which Aaron has generously allowed us to publish here, and find out why spiritual inclusion not only fosters community, but affects how and why we work.

I grew up a BuJew. My parents are both of Jewish descent but had found the need to find their own path in the 1960s and embraced Tibetan Buddhism.

It became the core of their identity. In our household, I was exposed to the values and traditions of both cultures. I spent my early school years at a Buddhist school, and my parents centered their lives around the Sangha (Buddhist community).

Being raised a BuJew has deeply impacted the way I lead and my career path. It has made me a tireless advocate for changing the world. It has helped me push myself to find my truth and challenge others to do the same. Finally, growing up a BuJew has inspired me to try to create cultures where everyone can be human at work.

Guest Author: 
Dr. Bruce Tallman

A rabbi, a pastor and an imam walked into a conference and started reading loudly from their scriptures. The rabbi read in Hebrew, the pastor in Greek and the imam in Arabic. It was a cacophony of pure jibberish.

Knowing that no one in the audience was understanding a word, the rabbi said, “According to my holy book, the Torah, the Jews are God’s chosen people.” The pastor declared, “In my holy book, the Bible, Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” And the imam stated, “According to my holy book, the Qur’an, Allah said ‘Anyone who is not a Muslim is an infidel.’ ”

Thus began the Three Interfaith Amigos, as Pastor Don Mackenzie, Imam Jamal Rahman, and Rabbi Ted Falcon call themselves. They were the keynote speakers at the Spiritual Directors International Conference in April 2017 in Toronto.

Although all are senior clerics, their mission and employment now is to speak at churches, mosques, synagogues or wherever they are invited, about why these three world religions should get along. All three religions are offspring of their father Abraham, and too often it has been like a family feud.

They should get along because they have similar values: oneness in Judaism, unconditional love in Christianity and compassion in Islam. But where these religions go astray is when they claim exclusivity — my religion is right and all others are wrong — which often results in hatred and violence, or when they promote the inequality of men and women, or fail to care for our common home, the Earth.

Guest Author: 
Miriam Frey

 

My journey from a small Mennonite community in southern Ontario to serving as Canada Coordinator for Spiritual Directors International has been a monumental leap. I pinch myself almost every day to be sure I am not dreaming. 

I grew up in a Mennonite church that has vigilantly kept its religious views and lifestyle constant for hundreds of years. From an early age I learned the monastic values of simplicity, obedience and humility. It was a safe, religious community that observed adult baptism and required group conformity. It emphasized separation from the world and did not value education. What I did and how I dressed was all dictated by the leaders of the church.

Guest Author: 
Blanca Trigueros-Lytle

 

Last night I was remembering my uncle Virgilio.  He was a magnificent guitar player, loving father and husband, a sweet man.  But when he drank alcohol, he would become violent, so violent that he would be taken to a sanitarium and put in a strait jacket.  I know this because my mother told me when she tried to visit him  These were precautions, we were told, so patients would not harm themselves. 

Guest Author: 
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin

 

As news of soul-staggering violence against others spins around the globe, we, too, may feel ourselves spinning; dizzy from reading angry rhetoric; lost in the maelstrom trying to figure out what we can and should do to quell the calm.

As a spiritual guide—and I’m certain you have experienced this also—others expect that you will hold steady in difficult times such as these. They look to us to be the calm in the storm, the safe place to express their grief, worry and anger. As spiritual confidants, they know we certainly must feel strongly about what is happening in the world, but we know how to hold our tangled thoughts and emotions prayerfully.

Do we? Are you? These questions tug at me lately (and have since November 2016 with the U.S. election). I not only observe, but sit, with other guides, pastors, priests and care-giving professionals who struggle doing so.

Guest Author: 
Dr. Bruce Tallman

 

God does not have to “intervene” in human affairs, as if God was swooping in from the outside, because God is everywhere and always has been. If anything, we humans are the interlopers, not God. As psychologist Carl Jung engraved in stone above his home’s entrance, “Summoned or not, God will be there.”

When Moses asked God what God’s name was, God said “I Am.” In other words, God is pure being, or “Being-Itself.” But God is also “Becoming-Itself.” God’s love is moving the whole evolutionary process forward toward God’s reign of wisdom, joy, justice, peace, and love.

This is evidenced by the fact that evolution has consistently moved in a spiritual direction: from rocks and water to plants and animals to humans and further to the spread of major religions around the world. So the direction is: matter to life to thought to spirit.

As a thought-experiment, let’s consider that possibly Jesus wanted to take things a further step, to a religion beyond religion — a meta-religion for everyone (“meta” means “beyond”).

His first major teaching, the Sermon on the Mount, starts with the Beatitudes, in which he outlines true happiness. In short: “Happy are the humble, the just, the pure in heart, and the peaceful.” He undoubtedly meant this for all human beings, not just his Jewish listeners.

We can resist his vision and the whole evolutionary process of course, and religious people have sometimes been the biggest resisters. The root of religion is “ligio” which means “to join” (same root as ligament), but religion can be used to hate and divide. Non-religious people can hate and divide people too, so the real problem is the human heart, rather than religion or atheism.

 “Are you becoming a wise and compassionate human being?”

I am not sure if it matters to God if you call yourself Christian, Jewish, Hindu, agnostic, or atheist if you are unkind. God’s key question is probably “Are you becoming a wise and compassionate human being?”

Along these lines, Aldous Huxley wrote The Perennial Philosophy in 1945 at the end of the Second World War, in which he noted that world peace should be possible because the same themes occur perennially in all religions: charity, peace, and kindness. All that is required is for believers to practise these values.

Brother Wayne Teasdale, a Catholic monk, more recently said the same thing in Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions (1999). All the major religions in fact have more in common than our differences.

Christians regularly say that God is love, but maybe we could go beyond this and affirm that God is also wisdom, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. These are values everyone can agree on, whether they are religious or not.

Thus there may be a universal spirituality, not just for religious people, but for all human beings. If anyone, atheist or believer, experiences wisdom, joy, love, and peace, they are experiencing God working within them, urging them on to become fuller, more evolved human beings.

This is happening all the time because God is in all our lives, not only in those who are religious but also in the “spiritual but not religious,” and even in those who claim they are not spiritual. All of us want more happiness in our lives, so everyone is in fact spiritual and experiences God, whether they admit it or not.

This meta-religion of universal spirituality, this religion beyond religion, may be similar to what Jesus, Huxley, and Teasdale proposed. Hopefully, it is something we could all agree and work together on. The goal of all education, religious or otherwise, should be to produce more wise and compassionate human beings.

Guest Author: 
Rev. Marcia Smith-Wood

     

 

 

“Look at the bug,” my friend says.

I turn my head and suddenly see not a bug

but a large dragonfly - resting flat against the back of the chair near me

its four huge translucent black and white striped wings spread wide and motionless

in the sunlight,

total stillness,

quiet,

and yet more.

 

In wordless wonder my soul silently asks,

Are you daring me to see you?

I know the answer before I hear it inside me:

      “Yes.”

 

You’re a messenger, aren’t you, daring me to accept a much resisted but holy invitation?

Daring me to stop the distracting busyness of my life?

      “Yes.”

Daring me to learn to rest like you in the sunlight

to finally spread my soul’s wings in quietness and wonder,

totally still and totally vulnerable ...

open, finally listening deeply to the light-filled, life-transforming love of the Divine One?

      “Yes.”

 

Huge round unblinking black eyes.

Narrow long light blue body.

Four huge translucent wings

totally still and totally vulnerable in the life-giving sunlight.

 

I remember that it takes two years after hatching

two years of growing as a vulnerable, fragile nymph

before the nymph’’s final metamorphosis into a dragonfly

Two long years surviving in this beautiful but often brutal world

Two long years before the dragonfly finally is ready to be who it was created to be.

 

“Yes. You are seeing the truth. I am a living invitation, which some call a metaphor.

     If I can do it, so can you.

     What you have been through has taught you much; has grown you much.

     But now this stage is over.

     It’s time. Let go of earlier stages. Let it all go.

    What are you afraid of?

    Have you forgotten the words of the Holy Oneness,

    with which you comfort everyone else?

    - “Fear not, I am with you.” -

 

“Yes. That’s it. Breathe. BREATHE!

      Relax your fear-based fighting muscles.

      Relax your fear-based, please-everyone-else muscles.

      Let go of what other people think.

      Let go of those who tell you, with the best of intentions,

      what they think you ought to be.

 

“ ‘Look at the bug,’ your friend said when he saw me, but never really saw me.

     You saw me.

     You know the truth.

     Dare to be who you were created to be! Dare to see who you really are.

     Dare to become who you were born to be ... even if no one else understands.

     Now! Have courage! Have joy!

     It’s time. Fear not!”

 

"Spread your soul’s wings wide; rest in God’s Presence and be transformed.

     It’s time.

     It’s time to love yourself. It’s time to be your Self in this world."

Guest Author: 
Carissa A. Kane

                                                          

 

It serves us well to remember that while the sun greets each day and the moon bids it farewell, each day is not the same. Though the hours in a day remain the same, each day offers countless possibilities and opportunities. In order to pursue or partake of them, though, often requires one to make a change.While we do need some things to be consistent and to have some structure, it is often good to re-evaluate our routines. Are there ways in which I have become closed off to that which is new or different? Is there room for change?

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