Membership Moments


Bless One Another

On 17 August, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi would have been ninety years old.

Reb Zalman, as he preferred to be called, died peacefully on 3 July in his home with his beloved wife, Eve Ilsen, by his side. The weekend of 17 August, many spiritual directors and students of Reb Zalman will gather in Boulder, Colorado, USA, to share stories and celebrate his life and his commitment to the formation and training of mashpiah, the Hebrew word for spiritual directors. I encourage you to join the memorial celebration in person and with your prayers of gratitude.

One word rings in my ears and infuses my heart when I think of Reb Zalman: blessing. During the past year and a half, many blessings have been bestowed on the Spiritual Directors International community as a result of Reb Zalman’s desire to offer his swan song during the Emerging Wisdom conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

We conversed several times by telephone and Skype as he and Eve Ilsen prepared for their presentations during the Emerging Wisdom conference. Every exchange was a blessing. In fact, I will never forget the end of one of our conversations, which became a teaching on blessing. His voice shifted to a focused, compassionate tone, and he proceeded to offer me a lesson on the importance of blessing one another. Reb Zalman taught me what he believed: we do not offer each other enough blessings.

His passion for blessing people, and for encouraging all of us to bless one another, was contagious. He wanted us to open our hearts to receive more blessings and to courageously offer each other blessings more often. In this way, we become instruments of peace and abiding love.

I want to thank the Jewish spiritual direction community and especially Rabbi Shohama Wiener for extending the invitation to Reb Zalman and Eve to participate with Father Richard Rohr, OFM and Roshi Joan Halifax as keynote presenters in Santa Fe. I also want to publicly thank Rabbi Amy Eilberg for graciously saying yes to speak on a multi-faith panel during the conference when it became apparent that Reb Zalman would not be able to participate. A deep bow of gratitude extends to Reb Zalman and Eve for their inspiring presentations during the Emerging Wisdom conference.

May Reb Zalman’s generous, creative spirit be a blessing for you and for your spiritual companionship ministry and service.

[Breathe deeply. Smile gently.]

May his deep love of his faith and desire to make his faith accessible and relevant for today’s seekers be a model for us.

[Breathe deeply. Smile gently.]

May his bold pursuit of teachers in other spiritual traditions including Howard Thurman, Father Thomas Merton, Pir Vilayat Khan, Ken Wilber, and the 14th Dalai Lama motivate us to keep learning and growing.

[Breathe deeply. Smile gently.]

May we receive these blessings with open hearts and turn to one another to offer blessings with joyful celebration of Reb Zalman’s life.

What blessing can you offer to those in your life? Who is blessing you? Share your thoughts on the SDI Blog and allow yourself to attune to life and life’s mysterious source.

Scroll down to read the articles associated with these headlines.

1. Free Teleconference: Spread the Word
2. Honoring the Joyous Life of Reb Zalman
3. Heads Up: Weekday Dates for 2015 Conference
4. New! Connections is Now Online
5. New Video! SDI Learns From … Wil Hernandez, PhD
6. Share Presence with a Friend
7. Calling all Writers!
8. August Poem by Patricia M. Russo
9. August Blessing from the Executive Director

Classified Ads:
The Soul Online

1. Free Teleconference: Spread the Word

Are you looking for an engaging way to introduce people to spiritual companionship? Consider inviting seekers in your area to the upcoming SDI teleconference. Post this information on your website, in your church or synagogue bulletin, and at your local coffee shop. Help people in your area learn about the value of spiritual direction.

Free Teleconference:

“How to Seek and Find a Spiritual Director”

19 August 2014, 12:00 p.m. EDT; 4:00 p.m. GMT/UTC

The teleconference will include tips on how to use the online Seek and Find Guide, discernment questions for seekers, and more! RSVP online and participants will be e-mailed more information about the August teleconference.

Don’t miss this opportunity to share the ministry and service of spiritual guidance with colleagues, chaplains, campus ministers, and the spiritual care department at your local hospital. Everyone is welcome.

2. Honoring the Joyous Life of Reb Zalman

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi passed away peacefully in his sleep the morning of 3 July 2014, at his home in Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Reb Zalman, as he preferred to be known, was the most influential Jewish change-maker of his generation. His wife, Eve Ilsen, wrote, “He would want you to continue giving tzedakah and doing your very own good in the world in his memory.” Please pray for and with Eve, Reb Zalman, and his huge global family. May our prayers bring comfort, and may we offer our goodness in the world in his memory.

The SDI community was privileged to learn from him during the April 2014 Emerging Wisdom conference. Please add your memory or a tribute you would like to share on the SDI website so we can celebrate his joyous life together as a community. In this way, we keep his spirit alive, and his encouragement carries forward for the next generations.

3. New! Heads Up: Weekday Dates for 2015 Conference

We can hardly contain our excitement about SDI’s twenty-fifth anniversary series of educational events next year!

Save the dates for the Emerging Wisdom educational events 14–22 April 2015—Wednesday through Friday—in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

Important note for your planning: the main conference will be offered on weekdays next year to make it possible for people to participate whose work intensifies on weekends.

Please prepare your calendar and pray for the 2015 educational events planning team. Stay tuned for more information!

4.New! Connections is Now Online

The August issue of Connections is now online! Engage with your global learning community through poetry, reflections, photographs, and more. Highlights of the August 2014 issue include photographs and stories from the 2014 Emerging Wisdom educational events in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

5. New Video! SDI Learns From … Wil Hernandez, PhD

Wil Hernandez, PhD, speaks about the value of compassion and confrontation in spiritual companioning.

Spiritual Directors International learns from Wil Hernandez, PhD, who conducts retreats, classes, workshops, and seminars all over the country focusing on the spirituality of Henri Nouwen. Hernandez regularly teaches at Fuller Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Franciscan Renewal Center, and the Center for Religion and Spirituality (Loyola Marymount University). He is the author of Henri Nouwen: A Spirituality of Imperfection and its sequel Henri Nouwen and Soul Care: A Ministry of Integration (Paulist Press).

6. Share Presence with a Friend

Do you know someone who would benefit from Presence journal? Why not share one of your back issues with them? Include a note describing what you like about the journal and how it might benefit your friend or colleague. Send an e-mail along with a copy of the note you wrote to, and Spiritual Directors International will replace your issue.

7. Calling all Writers!

Is writing life-giving to you? The SDI blog might be the perfect place for you to share your gift of writing. What wisdom might you share with the SDI community?

The blog is designed to be a space where you can share personal stories about spiritual direction and the contemplative practices that have been meaningful to your spiritual growth. To submit a story or find out more, e-mail

8. August Poem by Patricia M. Russo [Ohio, USA]

Three now meet in holy space.
Remove your shoes and touch this grace.
Here, seeking hearts and God’s embrace.
In stilling silence, slowing down.
God’s loving gaze and prayer abound.
Words to touch this place, divine.
God’s Word in us, enwrapped, entwined.
Our sacred tale.  A holy journey.
God’s passionate love, within our story.
We live this gifted life renewed.
From grace to glory we move anew.
Be now in wordless yearning prayer.
Breath of the spirit everywhere.
Ruah, God’s life within us free,
To live this blessed theophany.
Three now meet in holy space.
Encounter here, a sacred grace.

9. August Blessing

Smile and count your blessings in August. May you extend your blessed life by offering a blessing of your smile to a stranger. If it fits, offer the people you companion the gift of a blessing and encourage them to bless others.

Peace be with you,

Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv
Executive Director

The Soul Online
How is the internet affecting our spiritual development? How might we, as directors, respond? Christianne Squires, SDI New Contemplative and workshop presenter, seeks the wisdom of spiritual directors in her research for the Soul Online—a space for directors to gather, learn, and connect around this subject. Would you take a brief, anonymous survey to help us further shape this resource?