Spiritual Directors International

The Home of Spiritual Companionship


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.

Guest Author: 
Jeanette Banashak


What is "holy envy"?


September is a month that marks new beginnings: It’s a new school year for students and educators; it’s a new year for Jews; and new foods are harvested in the month of plenty.  For the past 37 Septembers since preschool in Mexico, I have begun a new academic year.  Each of those beginnings has been an opportunity to review my life, start a new hobby or continue an old one, and/or cultivate a relationship.

Krister Stendahl coined the term “holy envy," which means recognizing elements in another tradition that you admire and could, in some way, reflect  in your tradition.  In the 13th century during the Fifth Crusade in the month of September, St. Francis experienced holy envy after meeting the sultan, Malek al-Kamil.  In their first encounters, both men tried to convert the other, though quite quickly realized that they both had a deep love for God/Allah.  St. Francis was moved by the Islamic practice of prayer five times each day, which ultimately influenced his own devotion to prayer.

This September and beyond, I would like to leave room for holy envy.  Perhaps you might want to join me in this.

Guest Author: 
Paul Burgmayer


Editor's Note: The author of this post, Paul Burgmayer,  generously shared the above quote with me. He told me his hope with new directees is to "help them to begin the process of finding and naming that fire. As we begin the relationship, I want to both facilitate that and avoid anything that would get in its way." Well said, Paul. Amen.

Spiritual direction depends on creating strong relationships. And relationships depend on trust. That means building trust is essential. But what are good ways to do this? And how can we begin a trusting relationship with seekers who have little objective knowledge of spiritual direction and no subjective experience? [1]

In eight years of practice, I’ve seen 19 new directees: 14 had never experienced direction; 9 began with began with no explicit prayer life.

Over the years, I’ve developed some practices that I want to share here. I don’t write this because I see my see myself as an authority. Quite the contrary. I write in hope that my experience will trigger a discussion so we all can share ideas and learn from each other.

Guest Author: 
Aaron Hurst

Editor's Note: Aaron Hurst founded the Taproot Foundation, which connects nonprofits and social change organizations with skilled volunteers who share their expertise pro bono. Taproot has delivered more than $152 million in pro bono services. (Not too shabby.) He now heads a "for-benefit" company dedicated to helping people and organizations find purpose in work. He's a  true social entrepreneur. But what we didn't know is that he embodies what our executive director, Anil Singh-Molares, calls the spiritual "public square." Read this delightful post, which Aaron has generously allowed us to publish here, and find out why spiritual inclusion not only fosters community, but affects how and why we work.

I grew up a BuJew. My parents are both of Jewish descent but had found the need to find their own path in the 1960s and embraced Tibetan Buddhism.

It became the core of their identity. In our household, I was exposed to the values and traditions of both cultures. I spent my early school years at a Buddhist school, and my parents centered their lives around the Sangha (Buddhist community).

Being raised a BuJew has deeply impacted the way I lead and my career path. It has made me a tireless advocate for changing the world. It has helped me push myself to find my truth and challenge others to do the same. Finally, growing up a BuJew has inspired me to try to create cultures where everyone can be human at work.

Guest Author: 
Dr. Bruce Tallman

A rabbi, a pastor and an imam walked into a conference and started reading loudly from their scriptures. The rabbi read in Hebrew, the pastor in Greek and the imam in Arabic. It was a cacophony of pure jibberish.

Knowing that no one in the audience was understanding a word, the rabbi said, “According to my holy book, the Torah, the Jews are God’s chosen people.” The pastor declared, “In my holy book, the Bible, Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” And the imam stated, “According to my holy book, the Qur’an, Allah said ‘Anyone who is not a Muslim is an infidel.’ ”

Thus began the Three Interfaith Amigos, as Pastor Don Mackenzie, Imam Jamal Rahman, and Rabbi Ted Falcon call themselves. They were the keynote speakers at the Spiritual Directors International Conference in April 2017 in Toronto.

Although all are senior clerics, their mission and employment now is to speak at churches, mosques, synagogues or wherever they are invited, about why these three world religions should get along. All three religions are offspring of their father Abraham, and too often it has been like a family feud.

They should get along because they have similar values: oneness in Judaism, unconditional love in Christianity and compassion in Islam. But where these religions go astray is when they claim exclusivity — my religion is right and all others are wrong — which often results in hatred and violence, or when they promote the inequality of men and women, or fail to care for our common home, the Earth.

Guest Author: 
Miriam Frey


My journey from a small Mennonite community in southern Ontario to serving as Canada Coordinator for Spiritual Directors International has been a monumental leap. I pinch myself almost every day to be sure I am not dreaming. 

I grew up in a Mennonite church that has vigilantly kept its religious views and lifestyle constant for hundreds of years. From an early age I learned the monastic values of simplicity, obedience and humility. It was a safe, religious community that observed adult baptism and required group conformity. It emphasized separation from the world and did not value education. What I did and how I dressed was all dictated by the leaders of the church.

Guest Author: 
Blanca Trigueros-Lytle


Last night I was remembering my uncle Virgilio.  He was a magnificent guitar player, loving father and husband, a sweet man.  But when he drank alcohol, he would become violent, so violent that he would be taken to a sanitarium and put in a strait jacket.  I know this because my mother told me when she tried to visit him  These were precautions, we were told, so patients would not harm themselves. 


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