Spiritual Directors International

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Admin2's blog

Guest Author: 
Anne L. Simmonds

It’s kind of a death
Death of life as we’ve known it.
It’s only starting to sink in.
I feel bereft.
I’m letting go of things
One by one:
The hugs
seeing family
lunches with friends
classes at the YMCA
movies

Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell

This one is short, but holds the potential for profound and enduring change in your outlook and your daily experience. Yes, it's that good. Give it a try.

 

PRACTICE

 

1) Welcome stillness. Settle into it as you might settle into a favorite rocking chair. Relax. Rock. Be.

 

2) Imagine you are on a life boat. You have only just escaped from the ship you were on. It sank minutes ago.

Guest Author: 
Nathan Bettger

 

In the midst of this very tumultuous and uncertain time, the recent spread of coronavirus has highlighted something I have been shown in the last few months. Frailty. Vulnerability. Weakness. Aging. These aspects that are very much part of what it means to be a human, are so very much scorned and looked down upon by our Western North American Culture. Here, we live in an age of youth. strength, ability, progress, and improvement. These are riddled through the news, hammered in our advertising, and get more likes and followers than anything else in our popular social media streams. When these things begin to fade, as they always do, one’s worth and usefulness fall away and are lost in the halls of the nearest skilled nursing facility.

 

"What is true and what has always been true is that as one’s body begins to fade away, one’s spirit tends to expand."

 

But frailty is part of the human experience. It is more real than anything we see on our smartphones, streaming television, and news feeds. We live with it and we die with it. Frailty. What is true and what has always been true is that as one’s body begins to fade away, one’s spirit tends to expand. This is not to say they are separate, by any means, one’s body and spirit, but when we are strong we tend to rely on our external strength to get by and when we are not strong, we have to draw our strength from somewhere else. This is a very real possibility for each of us, an invitation, but unfortunately, one that is missed by countless men and women as they near the ends of their lives (This I have seen in sitting with hundreds of individuals as they stare down the ending of their days). Growing our internal strength, expanding our spirits, can happen with very little effort on our parts. It truly is a natural process, but it does mean that we have to let the natural process happen. What is most common is a resistance to this aging, a fear of the frailty, and too often a denial or blatant condemnation of the limits that are so naturally imposed on our natural body. What happens when we deny ourselves this acceptance is a shrinking dying body and a shrinking dying spirit. We deny ourselves the possibility of internal strength that transforms the world as others behold in awe the immensity of our spirit or presence.

Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell

Endings are always beginnings. Think of your life story as a circle instead of a straight line and you will see why. This practice, inspired by a poem by Christine Valters Paintner (read it all below), intends to open our awareness to the healing connection between what has been - and who has been - and what is.

(if you wish to share a URL for the poem, it is posted on our blog: https://www.sdiworld.org/blog/praise-song-pandemic )

PRACTICE

1) Welcome stillness wherever you can - sitting on the grass, looking out a window, walking your dog.
2) Breathe the next breath as if it was your last.

3) Exhale with the blessed awareness that it wasn't.

4) Read ( or recite - bonus points for memorization -) this line from the poem by Christine Valters Painter poem: "Give thanks for your ancestors, for the wars and plagues they endured and survived, their resilience is in your bones, your blood."

Guest Author: 
Christine Valters Paintner

 

Praise Song for the Pandemic
 
Praise be the nurses and doctors, every medical staff bent over flesh to offer care, for lives saved and lives lost, for showing up either way,
 
Praise for the farmers, tilling soil, planting seeds so food can grow, an act of hope if ever there was,
 
Praise be the janitors and garbage collectors, the grocery store clerks, and the truck drivers barreling through long quiet nights,
 
Give thanks for bus drivers, delivery persons, postal workers, and all those keeping an eye on water, gas, and electricity,
Guest Author: 
Joan Alexander

 

In a session with a directee, I slipped down the slope of ego.

This person had been meeting with me bi-weekly for approximately six months and we had settled into a comfortable relationship. He came to spiritual direction as a doctoral student of theology. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, his path has not always been a smooth one in either his personal or professional life. Our sessions revolved around fitting in while also being true to himself.

Guest Author: 
Matt Whitney

One of the most interesting aspects of my role as Creative Director at SDI is producing Listen – a free digital publication on spiritual companionship we produce quarterly. It’s designed to be an outreach publication, in that we introduce people to the depths of the spiritual journey, and the importance of having a guide to mirror back to us where we are in relation to God/The Divine/The Universe/The Ground of All Being.

 

 

Guest Author: 
Tom Cashman

As is so often the case, my session with Jerry allowed thoughts and ideas lying just below my consciousness to surface, like trout waiting for the right moment, waiting to surface for sustenance. Frequently I’ve described time with my spiritual director Jerry each month as “oral journaling” in which I’m sometimes very surprised at what comes out of my mouth. In our last meeting, an idea quietly exploded into my consciousness and then into our conversation.  It was the idea that my contemplative practice and my great love of flyfishing were somehow deeply connected.

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.”

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