I was growing up during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995), living in the divided city of Mostar in different dark shelters, hiding from shelling and gunfire, constantly worrying about whether relatives and loved ones were still alive. Living in constant fear, I developed a lot of stereotypes and prejudices. I hated people from other national and religious backgrounds.
In one of those long conversations that we sometimes have, a dear friend once told me, “you are a useless treeand that because of that, you have no problems in the world.”
I was puzzled, then he explained that it came from an ancient Taoist story of The Useless Tree, by Chuang Tzu, and that I should be honoured to be called a useless tree. I had never heard the tale before, so he shared the whole thing with me. It's not long, but it's very beautiful, and my friend is right.
Editor's note - This post captures the feeling of being on the Scottish Island of Iona as autumn arrives. For those who have visited, and those who long to visit, it is both invocation and invitation.
Greetings from Iona. We are here on this beautiful and atmospheric island in late September. This is the same time of year as the SDI Journey will be in 2019.
Iona is known for its winds and we are glad of hats, gloves and warm waterproof coats when we walk the lanes and tracks of the island. It’s beginning to get dark early so we need flashlights to go around in the late evening. The sea is beautiful and powerful as it crashes on the rocks on the Bay at the Back of the Ocean. It’s good to have time to respond to these experiences in writing and paint and to have space to reflect.
Editor's note - Kristen Hobby served as the chair of the SDI Coordinating Council . She finished her term of service earlier this year. She wrote this recollection of her time providing volunteer leadership to our organization. We are grateful for her service. She will be missed on the Council, but she continues to contribute as an SDI member, a spiritual director of deep compassion and writer. Blessings to you, Kristen.
In 2010, I was a relatively new member of Spiritual Directors International (SDI). I had attended my first SDI conference in Vancouver in 2007 and returned to the Houston conference in 2009. I also worked with SDI in presenting an interfaith panel on the topic of spiritual direction at the Parliament of the World’s Religions when it was hosted in Melbourne in 2009. The Parliament was a profoundly moving experience for me, both in the presenting of the workshop, the offering of a quiet ‘listening space’ for attendees, as well as seeing the Dalai Lama speak at the opening address.
Editor's note: This post comes from one of our members. The project discussed here is not a Spiritual Directors International project, nor is it sanctioned by our nonprofit organization. We do, however, want to share the stories of our members. In fact, we see it as part of our mission. We offer this post now in that spirit.
When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.
~ Chinese Proverb
Letting go.Inviting in.Embracing change.Easy words, hard actions.The ability to let go of long held beliefs and ideas and fully embrace and welcome those that yesterday were unknown can challenge our hearts, minds, and souls.Technological advances have pushed our world forward at a remarkable pace.I grew up in a world devoid of smart phones, voice mail, Instagram, or Twitter accounts.Instead of texts or emails, we wrote letters with a pen and paper that were stamped and sent through the U.S. Mail.To communicate with someone in the neighborhood we walked to their house and knocked on the door.It was a different time in countless ways.
Editor's note: These extraordinary quotes come from the popular Christian author and theologian Frederick Buechner. Together, they suggest one of the key themes in all his work -- listening to one's life.
May spiritual companions and seekers around the globe use them as inspiration to discern on the role played by God - or however we name the ground of all being - in our "day-by-day" lives.
Blessings to you all.
One of the clearest messages Frederick Buechner has woven into his many books is to pay attention - to your life, to the people with whom you are closest, to the things that happen to you. This, according to Buechner, is the best, and most authentic, way to experience yourself and God.
This talk was given in the fall of 2017 at Kol Nidre, the evening service that begins of Yom Kippur.Traditionally, Jews atone for our transgressions on Yom Kippur and pray to be included in the book of life- to have a good and healthy year.We greet each other by saying ‘G’mar chatimah tovah,’ loosely translated as, ‘May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.’ As we approach Yom Kippur this year (starting on the evening of September 18), I share these words with all the Spiritual Directors International community as an invitation for people of all spiritual paths to consider new possibilities for relating to prayer.
A non-religious, Christian-raised friend recently asked me, “Do you believe in G-d?”
Editor's note: The current controversy over “fake news” and the lamentable attacks on journalists as "enemies of the people" have obscured the vital spiritual role played by news-gatherers. Yes, you read that right. News is just as spiritual as anything else - as long as you receive it with an open heart. It's also worth remembering that news need not be partisan, mean-spirited or commentary, but can offer a remarkable window on our world - an invitation to learn and be compassionate.As Eric Massanari explains, it can even be an act of prayer:
At some point in the middle of 2017 I realized that I was avoiding the news. I was no longer reading newspapers, I wasn’t turning on my favorite radio broadcasts and I was going out of my way to avoid televisions that were tuned into the usual parade of boisterous and blustering pundits. Whether it came from “the right,” “the left” or somewhere in the muddled middle, it all seemed so full of pain, fear and vitriol.
How many times have you been having a conversation about your values or beliefs—political, theological, spiritual, nutritional—and been met with absolute statements? People say things like: “The truth of the matter is that…” or “what you don’t know is that…” or “this is that way…”
Telling people how things are, what the truth is, and what they don’t know, in relation to beliefs and values is extremely unhelpful in a two-sided dialogue.