Membership Moments


A Wave of Prayer

April is filled with anticipation. Passover begins on April 14. Easter follows on April 20. Then more than six hundred spiritual guides, trainers, and seekers from six continents will gather in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA to experience the Spiritual Directors International Emerging Wisdom conference. It’s almost here!

For nearly twenty-five years, Spiritual Directors International has provided the annual conference as a sacred learning experience on a weekend just after the holidays. Weary clergy, spiritual guides, formation and training faculty, and seekers have told us how much they appreciate the breathing space that the annual SDI educational events creates for recovery and rejuvenation after the busy seasons of Lent, Passover, Holy Week, and the Paschal Triduum.

Some people have asked why SDI is hosting the 2014 conference in the relatively unpopulated and rural state of New Mexico. Great question! Spiritual Directors International selected New Mexico to honor its rich diversity of spiritual traditions and cultures, and because bringing hundreds of people from around the world to New Mexico will help make a difference to their struggling economy. One in four families in New Mexico live in poverty, and the state is ranked one of the poorest in the country. When you participate in the New Mexico conference, you are contributing to the social justice element of the mission of Spiritual Directors International.

During one of the planning meetings in November, New Mexico SDI member Marianne Lewis said, “My hope for Spiritual Directors International coming to New Mexico is for a wave of prayer to blanket our state. I hope the prayer we all will bring will help to end violence and lift peoples’ spirits.” Not only will we bring prayer, but we also will bring much appreciated business to small shopkeepers and cafés, to housekeepers and the only Native American hotel in Santa Fe, to artists and musicians. I anticipate that we will be humbled by the generous hospitality of the local community and transformed by the power of our communal prayers for the wellbeing of all New Mexico families. 

As our wave of prayer blankets New Mexico, I also want to bring to your attention the 2015 SDI conference. Conference dates have usually fallen over the weekend, but next year we will gather on weekdays—Wednesday to Friday, April 15–17, 2015. SDI is committed to making educational events available as a sanctuary for learning and renewal after Passover and Easter. The change to weekdays respects the feedback we have received that many people who work in retreat centers and spiritual formation and training programs are not available for a conference on weekends. The location of the 2015 conference is a surprise and will be announced in Santa Fe. Anticipation is building … keep praying and stay tuned!   

What are you anticipating in April? What doors are you waiting to open? Where do you see prayers needed today? Share your thoughts on the SDI Blog.

Scroll down to read the articles associated with these headlines.

1. Wake up with Emerging Wisdom in Santa Fe!
2. Comfort and Serenity at the St. Columba Hotel on Iona
3. New! SDI Webinar in May
4. Celebrate the New Season with Hildegard of Bingen!
5. New! Save the Date for 2015
6. New Video! SDI Learns From … Joseph Byrd and Ben Lindwall
7. Suggest an Author for Presence
8. SDI Blog Highlights
9. April Poem by SDI Member Michael Dallaire
10. April Blessing from the Executive Director

Classified Ads:
Finding Seekers publication
The Alcyon Center

1. Wake up with Emerging Wisdom in Santa Fe!

At Emerging Wisdom, you’re sure to wake up well! Try any of these three wonderful morning contemplative offerings:

  • The resonance of Himalayan singing bowls offers you healing relaxation while bringing your senses alive.
  • A refreshing stretch in gentle yoga invites you fully into the moment, ready for all the mystery that Santa Fe has to offer.
  • Centering Prayer gives you a welcome pause of interior silence before your day gets into full swing.

Sui Ki Li, Christine Valters Paintner, and Susan Rush will be your guides for these Contemplative Practice Offerings from 7:00–7:45 a.m. on conference mornings. Let yourself be energized for all that lies ahead, including Sui Ki Li’s singing bowl and Chinese gong concert on Friday evening!

Online registration will remain open until April 16, so sign-up soon! Registration after April 16 will only be available at the Santa Fe Convention Center.

2. Comfort and Serenity at the St. Columba Hotel on Iona

When you come on the Interfaith Pilgrimage to Iona this June, you will stay at the St. Columba Hotel, a favorite destination of pilgrims for decades. All sleeping rooms have private bath or shower rooms, and the first floor is accessible by wheelchair. Wireless internet access is free for guests. The hotel’s comfortable sun lounges offer breathtaking views of Iona’s ever-changing moods. At mealtimes, you will enjoy local fresh food, including organic produce from the hotel’s own garden, free-range eggs, fresh baked scones and patisserie, fish from local boats, and more!

The famous Abbey and the ancient Reillig Oran Chapel are right next door, within easy walking distance at any time. This alone would be enough of a draw even without the soul-stirring opportunities the Iona pilgrimage offers you! Please join us—we still have room.

3. New! SDI Webinar in May

Are you looking for a way to grow and engage in deeper conversation? Would your interactions in spiritual direction be more meaningful if you viewed conversation as a contemplative practice? SDI invites you to participate in a new webinar: Practicing the Sacred Art of Conversation led my SDI member Diane Millis, PhD from Minnesota, USA.

Join us:
        May 21, 2014, 1:00 p.m. EST; 5:00 p.m. GMT/UTC
        May 21, 2014, 8:00 p.m. EST; 12:00 a.m. GMT/UTC (following morning, May 22)

Offered twice to accommodate multiple time zones, SDI intends to make programs available for as many people as possible. Learn more and register today!

4.Celebrate the New Season with Hildegard of Bingen!

In April we celebrate nature’s vitality. What could bring this experience more alive than an encounter with the vision of Saint Hildegard of Bingen? From the vantage point of immersion in the Divine, she writes:

“I am the fiery life of the essence of God; I am the flame above the beauty in the fields; I shine in the waters; I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars. And with the airy wind, I quicken all things vitally by an unseen, all-sustaining life.”

SDI’s Interfaith Pilgrimage to Germany is your opportunity to experience shining landscapes and vital rhythms that brought the seasons alive for Hildegard of Bingen, mystic, poet, healer, and spiritual director. We expect the pilgrimage will fill quickly so register now!

5. New! Save the Date for 2015

We can hardly contain our excitement about SDI’s twenty-fifth anniversary series of educational events next year! While the location is still top secret, the dates are not.

Save the date for the Emerging Wisdom educational events April 14–17, 2015 in your calendars. We’re happy to offer the main conference on weekdays next year, to make it possible for people whose work intensifies on weekends to participate.

While excitement continues to grow for this year’s conference in Santa Fe, please begin preparing and praying for the 2015 educational events and stay tuned for more information!

6. New Video! SDI Learns From … Joseph Byrd and Ben Lindwall

Joseph Byrd and Ben Lindwall talk about emerging spiritual companionship roles and the value of an embodied experience for younger men.

Joseph Byrd has presented workshops throughout Michigan and the mid-west on The Spirituality of Dietrich Bonhoeffer; William Blake: From Words to Wordlessness; Bonaventure’s The Tree of Life; and the lives and work of Saint Francis and Saint Clare. He’s a facilitator at the Center for Mission and Ministry in DeWitt, Michigan, USA, and the animator of Bonhoeffer Village, a ministry modeled after Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s time in the underground Finkenwalde Seminary.

Ben Lindwall is the executive director of Heartbeat in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, working with John Philip and Ali Newell to provide an articulation for Earth-honoring spirituality, facilitating interfaith relationships, and enabling the next generation in contemplation and engagement.

SDI is thankful that Joseph and Ben also contributed their voices to the SDI blog this month. Make sure you are tuned in to the SDI blog to not miss out on insightful articles and reflections on the SDI contemplative practice of the week.

7. Suggest an Author for Presence

Have you heard a speaker recently that you think should write for Presence? Send your suggestions to Include the speaker’s name and e-mail address and the topic you think he or she should write about.

8. SDI Blog Highlights

Are you following the SDI blog? If not, start right now! Each month, SDI has dynamic writers contribute their thoughts on spiritual direction, as well as reflective pieces on the contemplative practice of the week. This month we had contributions about humility, joy, and compassion.

If writing is life-giving to you, the SDI blog might be the perfect place to share your voice. To submit a story or find out more, e-mail

9. April Poem by SDI Member Michael Dallaire [British Columbia, Canada]

Orbit Down
I have fallen down into
the deep ground of emptiness
that moved up to welcome me
and held me close in a dark womb.

What led to this holy enclave
but my actions spun out
in orbital decay, cause unknown,
but foreseen by wisdom,
if I’d only heeded.

Am resting, now, downing into weight
the curtains of time held open,
stopped now in this stilling place
where bones ache,
rise up and out.

This grace that drew and held me,
after a thousand years of beckoning,
is a blessed love to rest in.
It is what I have fallen for,

10. April Blessing

During this sacred season of Pesach and Easter, may you be grateful for “This grace that drew and held [you], after a thousand years of beckoning.” May your anticipation of the wonders of this season create everyday aha moments that nourish your soul and the souls of people you companion. May we all take the time to celebrate the wisdom that is emerging among us.

Peace be with you,

Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv
Executive Director

Classified Ads:

“A tremendous resource”Presence (June 2012): Finding Seekers: How to Develop a Spiritual Direction Practice from Beginning to Full-Time Employment by Dr. Bruce Tallman. The classic work for spiritual directors totally updated. 50 new pages including social media networking: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Skype. 212 pages. For expert testimonies, Table of Contents, and to download this ebook, go to and click on "Store."

Retreat Center on Mount Desert Island, Maine 
The Alcyon Center is a spiritual life center on a quiet cove amidst the stunning beauty of Mount Desert Island and nearby Acadia National Park.  We set aside two weeks each month for those who yearn for the deepening and centering that silence and nature provide.   Come for the gentle hospitality of Alcyon Experience Week or the Simple and Silent Week, or join us for our weekend programs with guest teachers. 
Visit for more details, or email us for an introductory flyer The cove awaits you, and so do we, Joan Jordan Grant and Kathryn Booth, directors.