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Guest Author: 
Anil Singh-Molares

 

Editor's note: The executive director of Spirtual Directors International, Anil Singh-Molares, wrote a version of this piece for the SDI newsletter "Listen"  earlier this year. The response from our membership was so positive and strong we wanted to share it here in hopes of widening the discussion and hearing more from the community. Please let us know what your answer is below in the comments. (And for context on the above quote -- check out the cool 4-minute video with Rev. Vaccariello.

What is a spiritual director?

 

One question, many answers.

The term “spiritual director” has many associations and a long history in the Abrahamic faiths traditions, where it has been closely associated with certain strands of Judaism, with spiritual directors referred to as “Hashpa'ah” or “Mashpai’h,” (depending on the strand); Christian and, much later, in particular Ignatian spirituality; and in the Islamic Sufi path, where the spiritual director is known as a “Murshid.” But even within these traditions there is great (and increasing) variability in how the terms are used, defined, and contextualized. The common approach that they share is that in all of them, the spiritual director looks to engage with seekers in an open and non-judgmental way, steeped in contemplative practice and deep listening, to provide guidance and enable seekers to get closer to God.

Guest Author: 
Tessi Muskrat Rickabaugh
 

 

My mom and brother both got married this summer. A second marriage for my mom, in the beautiful mountains of Colorado; a lovely outdoor ceremony for my brother, with just a touch of the melodrama required of a couple who met and bonded over a mutual interest in science fiction epics and theatre. Sharing two weddings with my sprawling and increasingly diverse family has given me a richness of time to sit with the question of what it is that keeps us together, and why it works.

We cover the spectrum by now, my siblings and our families: gun-loving hunting enthusiasts, feminists, counselors, spiritual directors, members of the LGBTQ community, Republicans, Democrats, Mormons, atheists, evangelicals and everything in-between. When we gather, I marvel at the mini-miracle that is this microcosm of America able to come together, fall apart, come together again, and go home still loving each other.

It’s not always easy, of course, but when struggles arise, when hurtful things are said by accident or someone unwittingly steps on someone else’s toes, we keep talking. When beliefs and lifestyles are shared which challenge the comfort of others, we keep listening. We continue to share our story, and listen with open curiosity to the stories of others. We engage with each other’s lives, because in our deepest souls we believe that these relationships matter.

There is no way to say “I’m sorry” in Cherokee, nor is there a word for “love”. If you are loved by someone, my language teacher says, they will show you. There’s no need to use words. We have a phrase in Cherokee—phonetically it is “de tsa da hli yv se s di”—which loosely translates to “Y’all cling to each other.” Cling, my teacher says, as if what you have is worth fighting to the death to keep. A dog, fighting to protect the children it loves, may die in the fight but will never give up. If we value one another with that fierce love, we will have no need for apologies.

U.S. Congressman Rep. Joe Kennedy recently spoke at The Summit, Sojourners' annual gathering of faith and justice leaders. In his remarks, he shared what he believes lies at the heart of the Christian faith: “The belief that we are all worthy, we are all equal, we all count.”” We are all, according to the Bible, sons and daughters of God.

When I ponder what it is that keeps my family together, that allows us to go home at the end of the day with love in our hearts for each other, it is this same principle. The belief that we—each parent and sibling, each spouse and child—are family. Each of us is worth clinging to, is worth fighting for. Our differences are pregnant with the potential for division. Should we choose to let go of our belief in the value of one another—should we cease to cling to one another—we could easily splinter apart. But we chose to remember. We choose to love.

Guest Author: 
Janice L. Lundy, DMin

It was my 18-month old daughter who deepened my experience of wonder. As soon as she could toddle, her chubby little legs carried her outside to explore the big, wide world.

I can still see her in my mind’s eye, crouching down in the grass to point her tiny finger at any number of nature’s surprises: ants busily building a house, fragments of a pale blue robin’s egg, the delicate tapestry of Queen Anne’s Lace. “Look, Mama,” she would say, “isn’t it pretty? Come see!” And she would continue to crouch and wait until I did the same. Every waking moment of her day, all she wanted to do was go outside to explore nature’s handiwork. This little soul lived in a world of wonder.

Guest Author: 
Susan Sevier

Patience as a practice is, for me, inseparable from the activities it makes possible:  waiting, listening, and empathy.  More than any other necessary ingredient along the spiritual journey, I have seen it only as the condiment, never the main course.  That is, until I think about the differences between my two beagles, Gracie and Joy, and the way they approach their favorite pastime – fly hunting. 

Guest Author: 
Janice Lundy

For more than four decades, I have followed a Spirit trail. The trail took me from Protestant Christianity in my twenties; through forays into Buddhism and yoga in my thirties; through the goddess movement, Sufism, and Native American Spirituality in my forties. I made pilgrimages to sacred sites, walked labyrinths, chanted at temples, meditated at ashrams, and danced on moonlit beaches with circles of women. It was a spiritual sampling of grand proportion, a sumptuous journey!

Guest Author: 
Lauren Carlson

Several dying trees in the cemetery that faces my house were cut down and removed this past fall. Before the process was complete, I had ample time to show my three children how a stump can tell the story of a tree, that each ring is a year of the tree’s life, that wider rings mean wetter and productive years, while thin ones indicate drought and scarcity.

Guest Author: 
Carissa Kane

While oftentimes society can see “legacy” in terms of what meets the eye, and what can be measured, legacy is much deeper than that. William Shakespeare wrote, "No legacy is so rich as honesty," in his play All's Well That Ends Well (Act 3, Scene 5). Catherine of Siena wrote, "For people become like what they love," in a portion of a letter (Letter T29) to Regina della Scala, a noblewoman. When fiction gives way to truth, and one scratches beyond the surface reaching the heart of the matter, therein lies what will be left behind and passed along, whether individually or collectively. What stands the test of time, whether for good or bad, is legacy.

Guest Author: 
Jim Leach

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  
                 —Albert Einstein                                         

My dog, Ziggy, loves to power sniff through town. Random tufts of grass, low-hanging bushes, and granite curbs grab his smelling fancy. When we go to the local dog park, he doesn’t play with other dogs. Instead he indulges himself with an intense investigation of all the local aromas. If he finds something particularly pungent, he will roll around in it with much delight. He puts his whole being into the experience.

In a way, he was the inspiration for my new spiritual practice. I call it “awe walking.”

Guest Author: 
Barb McRae

Thirty-five years ago, American writer and social activist, Anne Herbert wrote the instantly popular phrase "practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" on a place mat in Sausolito, California, USA. Ten years later, her book, Random Acts of Kindness, was published and a movement begun. Kindness became the leading virtue of the day for many. Bumper stickers proclaimed the revival and quietly, neighbors, colleagues, friends, and strangers sought ways to do a mitzvah, a good deed, for a fellow creature.

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