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Guest Author: 
Allie Kochert

 

What lights up your soul? What brings joy to your moments? When do you feel wonder, awe?

Spiritual directors often ask questions like these as we develop relationships with those who we companion. We are blessed, honored, and privileged to get a chance to offer ourselves and our attention to the seeking souls of other “spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Yet we are human, too, and what we do sometimes can be hard work. Indeed, relationships are never really easy per se, and we are in the business of building relationships— through our presence with our directee and the Divine.

As emerging spiritual directors, we are sometimes unaware of how our own reactions can unintentionally bubble up and hinder our ability to be fully present to our directee. When we need to fix, advise, cajole or otherwise change our companions and their reactions, we can sideline the movement of Spirit. It is ethically questionable to blindly speak our strong reactions. Yet, we still face the issue of what to do with our rising thoughts, feelings and sensations.

When we notice our pulse racing, or emotions rising, or thoughts racing, we can react with fear or an attempt to block the feelings we are experiencing:

“I shouldn’t feel this way.”

“I need to be present and not judge.”

“I don’t want to make this about me.”

Guest Author: 
Azra Rahim, MD

Some call her Mary. Peace be upon her.  Muslims know her as Maryam.  Peace be upon her. Muslims revere her. The Quran calls Maryam - peace be upon her -  the most righteous among all women. She is believed to be pure, in every sense of the word and that is what Azra (my name) means - Pure. I am named in her honor. In my earliest memories, my grandmother speaks love stories of Maryam - peace be upon her - linking us together, forever. 

Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell

 

There is a quest in every open-ended and open-hearted question.

Who am I?

This is just such a questing question.

What is my destiny?

This is another.

If these questions seem daunting, remember that a true response is always a good response.

“I don’t know,” can be just such a true response.

“I don’t know” can be the beginning of a great adventure. It can create an openness to learning and growth, to more open-ended, open-hearted questions, such us:

Guest Author: 
Janice L. Lundy, DMin

A good way to start thinking about nature,

talk about it.

Rather talk to it,

talk to the rivers, talk to the lakes,

to the winds.

As to our relatives.

 

~ John Lame Deer

 

People from the beginning of time have linked their inner lives to Nature. I use the term “Nature” here, with a capital “N” to denote sacred Presence. Such has been the case for me.

As a young girl, I felt such Presence while walking in the woods or along a sandy shoreline. I heard Presence whisper through the trees and grasses; witnessed It as birds soaring in flight and in the delicate unfolding of flowers. Something holy presented itself to me through all things of land and sea. Because of this, I can easily label myself as a “nature mystic.”

Guest Author: 
Hans Hallundbaek, M-Div, D-Min

Swedish Climate Activist Greta Thunberg, age 16, addresses the United Nations, September 23, 2019.

 

When we witness how in quick succession a young girl from Sweden awakens first her own country, then Europe and now the US and the whole world to the climate crisis, we may wonder how she does it?

What is the secret behind her ability to rally a quarter of a million people in New York, the capitalistic center of the world, and millions in 185 countries  worldwide joining in the largest climate protest in history? (This took place only last week on September 20, 2019.)

Guest Author: 
Eric Massanari

 

Editor's note: This meditation comes from Eric Massanari, spiritual director and chaplain, who is hosting our webinar series called "Dying and Spiritual Companionship - Encouraging Connection and Community." He wrote the above haiku and the meditation below for the webinar workbook. We liked them so much that we wanted to share them for everyone to enjoy here on our blog.

 

There are great thresholds in this life, beyond which we are confronted with boundless Mystery: the threshold of birthing and the threshold of dying.

We tend to think of these in a linear way, assuming that we move from one to the other with the march of days, from our beginning to our ending. A human life, we presume, is the span of time—sometimes so tragically brief and sometimes protracted beyond desire—that unfolds in the space between these thresholds.

Encountering death has a peculiar way of upsetting such a timeline.

Guest Author: 
Kristen Hobby

 

My family and I recently spent 10 days in Northern Spain, visiting and walking the first and last parts of the Camino de Santiago. It is something that I have wanted to do for many years, after hearing from many friends returning from this life-changing pilgrimage. While we didn’t have the time to walk the whole 800 kms (600 miles) which would have taken around 6 weeks, we did manage the first big walk from St. Jean Pied du Pont in France up over the Pyrenees to Roncevalle in Spain, an epic 20 kms straight up ascent, followed by a grueling 4-5 kms straight down descent. We broke the first day up into two shorter days before slowly making our way to Sarria (via the wonderful city of Pamplona) the last place you can join the Camino and receive your pilgrim’s passport in Santiago. As you walk you collect stamps at various churches, cafes and hotels to complete your passport as proof of your journey.

Guest Author: 
Sharon Seyforth Garner

 

 

Editior's note:  Art and spiritual companionship go together. Many of you know about an ancient contemplative practice caled visio divina. And SDI is about to launch a webinar series called "Contemplative Photography & Spiritual Companionship."

The piece of art above is an example of how useful a single artistic image can be. (It was made by our Creative Director Matt Whitney, who is also leading the contemplative photography webinar.)

The illustration was created for the January 2019 edition of Listen (see below) and the response to it was rapid and significant. People wanted to know where they could get a copy of it to hang in the space where they did spiritual direction / companionship. So, we decided to sell quality reproductions at the 2019 conference in Bellevue - and we continue to sell them on line.

 

 

We do get some money through the sale of the reproductions - which is lovely because it helps us pay the bills here. smiley But the real reason we offer this illustration in our shop gets to the core of our purpose as an educational nonprofit - "to support spiritual companionship around the world."

To be succinct, we think Matt's art can benefit spiritual companions in their work.

How often do you see an image that captures one of the key roles of a spiritual companion? An image that shows how spiritual companionship actually works? An image that can spark a deeper dialogue? 

Guest Author: 
Rev. Denise McGuiness

What lurks in the shadow?  Why are we so afraid of it?  We are taught by our culture to fear the darkness and to avoid mining it for what it might hold. If we are to truly be whole, we need to discover both parts of ourselves and our world: light and darkness.

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