Spiritual Directors International

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Dan Unger's blog

Guest Author: 
Catherine Tran

In a world broken by political divides, by cultural and racial tensions and by violence, it can be overwhelming just to engage with someone who holds opinions different than our own. We wrestle with daily interactions. We may find ourselves befuddled by those we struggle to relate to. Relationships and conversations can confound us.

On a long drive recently, I listened to a radio show about how to persuade others about political issues. The hosts were certain of their own political views so one underlying premise was that the opposing point of view was incomplete or in error. The hour was full of good suggestions for letting the other person speak and ways to explain your own views without being threatening. The hosts were even practical enough to suggest that the other person might not listen or be persuadable. But the question that went through my mind throughout the hour was why. Why should we persuade others to agree with us? Do we always need to win arguments or be right? Is it so bad to have differing opinions? I don’t think so. The world would boring if we all agreed on everything.

Guest Author: 
Rev. Wilfredo Benitez

Photo copyright: (c) Wilfredo Benitez

Many of us in the postmodern world recognize a yearning for spirituality, a longing for something that gives meaning to life.  Perhaps like never before, we live in an age of brilliant psychological insights and openness to spirituality.  There is a growing convergence between psychology and spirituality, something I’m convinced is an unavoidable phenomenon when exploring the deeper meaning of human life.  Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, the father of analytical psychology, established the foundation for this intersection between psychology and spirituality, and although there remains a lingering distrust of organized religion, the wealth of spirituality and wisdom contained in the world’s great religions, cannot be denied.   Book stores are replete with titles on spirituality, and yet most of these have no direct connection to organized religion.  There is a yearning out there, a search for deeper meaning; and yet many of those searching have turned away from organized religion.  Why?

Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell

The best contemplative practice is always the one that can be done now.

So let’s go. Find the nearest door. Step outside. Find a tree. A tall one if you can. Full of autumn color. Don’t think. Just look up.

This is impromptu contemplation. An adventure without an itinerary. A journey without a destination. Agile. Ad lib. Right now.

Guest Author: 
Tessi Mukrat Rickabaugh

I maintain a pretty active social media presence. As a spiritual director who works primarily with younger people, this is an important part of how I am being in the world. I share things which reflect the values I find to be important: beauty, empathy, love, contemplative presence. I also engage in conversations with people across the political, social and religious spectrum, working to bring these same values to those who might not experience them in their daily life or churches. 

Approaching conversations, on social media and in person, from a contemplative stance means that sometimes phrases or thoughts push themselves to the forefront, just as they do in spiritual direction sessions. The past few months, one of those phrases has asserted itself frequently, surfacing over and over in a wide variety of conversations.

"It doesn't matter how you feel about it."

Guest Author: 
Rev. Brenda Buckwell


I am a ballroom dancer.  The conversation between partners, the lead and the follow, is one of wordless articulation.  The lead initiates the story: go here, turn there, spin right then pause … and go. The follow listens intently with the entire body for nuances of inward expression to match the lead’s steps.

Spiritual direction follows a similar pattern. The dance of dialogue through storytelling and holy listening is breathtaking to behold.

Guest Author: 
Bruce Tallman


The beginning of an effective solution to events like the recent ones in Charlottesville and Barcelona might be found in listening to three contemporary wise men.

Guest Author: 
Tessi Muskrat Rickabaugh

I walked my first prayer labyrinth before I had ever heard of spiritual direction or contemplative spirituality or even mysticism. It was in a big, dimly-lit room at a youth workers' convention -a huge painted canvas spread across the floor, peppered with a variety of "stations" at which the walker could pause and engage with a question or concern around their role as a youth leader in their church. I remember one station still: an old-fashioned TV, the screen showing nothing but static, a pillow on the floor in front of it. This station invited us to sit and spend some time contemplating those things in our lives which might be creating ongoing "static", preventing us from "tuning into" God in the way we desired. 

Guest Author: 
Janice L. Lundy, DMin


Many years ago when I was training to be a spiritual director, the kindly Sister who led the program made it very clear to us that spiritual guidance over the telephone was not acceptable. More specifically, that good spiritual guidance could not happen unless two people were face-to-face and the “third chair” was physically present in the room.

Today, I know better and do offer spiritual guidance via Skype or over the telephone. I have found it to be a very useful modality benefitting some seekers, in some situations, but not all.  Without a doubt, it can have a providential outcome as I have experienced with seekers outside the U.S. (my home), homebound seekers, and those whose lives present varied and difficult circumstances in terms of travel, child-care needs, or work schedules. Grace can move through the ethers across telephone lines and satellite networks. Who are we to say it can’t?

Guest Author: 
SDI Coordinating Council


Friday September 15, 2017 9:15 PM

ST. LOUIS, MO -- The Coordinating Council of Spiritual Directors International is in St. Louis for a meeting and retreat. We are all deeply affected by the events of today. We met and listened to residents of St. Louis and nearby areas this morning before the verdict. We want to make it clear that we stand in solidarity with the people of this city. Our prayers are with everyone. As spiritual directors, we feel called to be in community with all people here. We see it as sacred activism to offer our support at this time.
In the public square of spiritual direction, we cannot shy away from the sometimes messy, broken, even dangerous and violent aspects of life. The truth is, we are all connected. We offer our voices and our hearts as part of what we hope will become a broad presence for healing as this night wears on.
Guest Author: 
Rev. Catherine D. Kerr



I found this touching reflection on Rev. Cathy's Facebook page. Written on August 30, 2017, it refers to a woman whose children were isolated in floods caused by Hurricane Harvey. -- Editor

The beauty, the frailty of life.

Sitting at the lab early this morning, waiting to have blood drawn, a patient more than a chaplain, I’m approached by an older woman who veers in my direction on her way to the door.


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