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Guest Author: 
Jennifer Olin-Hitt

It’s not uncommon for Americans in our 21st century to find their way to a mental health clinic. In the U.S. today, according to the DSM-5, 46% of adults are likely to develop a diagnosable mental disorder.  There are a variety of reasons for the statistics: economic stressors, environmental challenges, inadequate social resources, and often, simply a greater awareness of and the reporting of diagnoses.  For the millions of people affected by mental health disorders – depression, anxiety, personality disorders, etc. – mental health professionals provide relief and hope. Psychiatrists, counselors, marriage and family therapists are important resources, contributing greatly to the well-being of society.

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. 

As a teenager I began to realize that I was heading down a dead-end street. I was expected to leave school at the age of 16. My honour within the community was to become a wife and mother. Instinctively, I knew I didn’t want either one yet I didn’t know how to get out of these expectations. I begged my father to let me finish high school. This extra education allowed me to get an office job in town. 

Even with this bit of freedom, I felt imprisoned.

Guest Author: 
Rev. Marcia Smith-Wood

     

 

 

“Look at the bug,” my friend says.

I turn my head and suddenly see not a bug

but a large dragonfly - resting flat against the back of the chair near me

its four huge translucent black and white striped wings spread wide and motionless

in the sunlight,

total stillness,

quiet,

and yet more.

Guest Author: 
Carissa A. Kane

                                                          

 

It serves us well to remember that while the sun greets each day and the moon bids it farewell, each day is not the same. Though the hours in a day remain the same, each day offers countless possibilities and opportunities. In order to pursue or partake of them, though, often requires one to make a change.While we do need some things to be consistent and to have some structure, it is often good to re-evaluate our routines. Are there ways in which I have become closed off to that which is new or different? Is there room for change?

Guest Author: 
Aprille Jordan

My first experience with Spiritual Direction took me by surprise. I was going through grief and in the midst of transition. During this time, I was invited by a not-so-close friend to meet weekly for conversation and prayer. I accepted her invitation and discovered that although she wasn’t an accredited spiritual director, she was a naturally gifted one. She provided for me what I then came to expect from Spiritual Direction: a focused listening ear.

Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell

                      

In Asia and Africa and in many indigenous cultures around the world, venerating ancestors is more than a tradition of the past. It's a way to live well and prosper today. In the Hebrew Bible, one of the most famous commandments says, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land THE LORD your God is giving you.”  Christian and Islamic faiths also see honoring parents as a virtue. All these traditions hold that individuals, as well as communities and even countries, benefit by respecting those who came before. In this blog post, SDI’s new Director of Content and Philanthropy, Steven Crandell, looks at our relationship with our ancestors (and the lack thereof). The ideas that follow are Steven’s own, not those of SDI. We offer them here  in our beloved public square of spiritual direction  in hopes they may of some use to our members as they guide their directees and as they follow their own spiritual paths. As always, we welcome your comments. How do you honor your own mother and father and the generations that came before? Or do you choose not to honor them? These questions are not always easy to answer, but the process of considering them can be fruitful.  -- Editor

A tree without roots cannot grow.

When we humans lose our roots, we too begin to wither — losing our balance, our health and our spiritual foundation.

I call this Ancestor Deficit Disorder — the new ADD. And I believe it is a spiritual epidemic.

Guest Author: 
Anil Singh-Molares

 

Editor's note: The executive director of Spirtual Directors International, Anil Singh-Molares, wrote a version of this piece for the SDI newsletter "Listen"  earlier this year. The response from our membership was so positive and strong we wanted to share it here in hopes of widening the discussion and hearing more from the community. Please let us know what your answer is below in the comments. (And for context on the above quote -- check out the cool 4-minute video with Rev. Vaccariello.

What is a spiritual director?

 

One question, many answers.

The term “spiritual director” has many associations and a long history in the Abrahamic faiths traditions, where it has been closely associated with certain strands of Judaism, with spiritual directors referred to as “Hashpa'ah” or “Mashpai’h,” (depending on the strand); Christian and, much later, in particular Ignatian spirituality; and in the Islamic Sufi path, where the spiritual director is known as a “Murshid.” But even within these traditions there is great (and increasing) variability in how the terms are used, defined, and contextualized. The common approach that they share is that in all of them, the spiritual director looks to engage with seekers in an open and non-judgmental way, steeped in contemplative practice and deep listening, to provide guidance and enable seekers to get closer to God.

Guest Author: 
Tessi Muskrat Rickabaugh
 

 

My mom and brother both got married this summer. A second marriage for my mom, in the beautiful mountains of Colorado; a lovely outdoor ceremony for my brother, with just a touch of the melodrama required of a couple who met and bonded over a mutual interest in science fiction epics and theatre. Sharing two weddings with my sprawling and increasingly diverse family has given me a richness of time to sit with the question of what it is that keeps us together, and why it works.

We cover the spectrum by now, my siblings and our families: gun-loving hunting enthusiasts, feminists, counselors, spiritual directors, members of the LGBTQ community, Republicans, Democrats, Mormons, atheists, evangelicals and everything in-between. When we gather, I marvel at the mini-miracle that is this microcosm of America able to come together, fall apart, come together again, and go home still loving each other.

Guest Author: 
Janice L. Lundy, DMin

It was my 18-month old daughter who deepened my experience of wonder. As soon as she could toddle, her chubby little legs carried her outside to explore the big, wide world.

I can still see her in my mind’s eye, crouching down in the grass to point her tiny finger at any number of nature’s surprises: ants busily building a house, fragments of a pale blue robin’s egg, the delicate tapestry of Queen Anne’s Lace. “Look, Mama,” she would say, “isn’t it pretty? Come see!” And she would continue to crouch and wait until I did the same. Every waking moment of her day, all she wanted to do was go outside to explore nature’s handiwork. This little soul lived in a world of wonder.

Guest Author: 
Susan Sevier

Patience as a practice is, for me, inseparable from the activities it makes possible:  waiting, listening, and empathy.  More than any other necessary ingredient along the spiritual journey, I have seen it only as the condiment, never the main course.  That is, until I think about the differences between my two beagles, Gracie and Joy, and the way they approach their favorite pastime – fly hunting. 

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