Spiritual Directors International

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Membership Moments

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv

Did you know that the saguaro cactus only grows in the Sonoran Desert of Mexico and the United States? Pilgrims in the recent SDI Interfaith Pilgrimage: Exploring the Spirit of the Desert learned that the arms of the saguaro do not emerge until the cactus has lived about sixty-five years, and some saguaros live to be two hundred years old.

“Imagine if we saw our lives as beginning at age sixty-five with many more limbs to grow and heights to climb,” one pilgrim remarked. It was a freeing invitation to consider how the saguaro offers a new perspective on living.

Guest Author: 
Liz Ellmann, MDiv

I know it’s February, yet I can’t get the Christmas hymn “O Come Let Us Adore Him” out of my head. That’s because a dear friend recently adopted a beautiful Russian baby girl named Carina, and my husband and I are part of Carina’s new extended family of “aunties” and “uncles” who truly do adore her. 

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv

Light takes thousands of forms. At this time of year in Seattle, Washington, USA, the light is low in the sky. Even at midday, the sun casts long, gray shadows.

While visiting family in southern California, USA, for the Christmas holidays, I noticed the sun sits much higher in the sky. On cloudless nights, even though it’s dark, the stars are brilliant. New Year’s Eve, we gazed at the starry fragments of light—brilliant specks—each one representing the brightness of the sun. Some of the brightest stars are actually planets, reflecting the light of the sun, not creating their own light. 

People represent light too. Sometimes all we see is a glimmer, only because we are too far away to see the sun they embody. Some of us have light we cover up, keeping the brilliance hidden. How do we express the light we represent?

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv

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“Please wait here, at the edge of the rainforest,” the Australian Aboriginal guide requested of his pilgrims. “In my native language, I will ask the rainforest for the go-ahead to bring you inside.”

 

SDI’s newest Coordinating Council member, Kristen Hobby, relayed this story during the October Coordinating Council meeting. Hobby had recently returned from a family holiday in Queensland, where she was privileged to see through the eyes of the people who have been the custodians of the rainforest for tens of thousands of years. The Daintree is considered the oldest living rainforest on Earth. Hobby spoke about how the Australian Aboriginal guide had a way of listening deeply that informed her spiritual companionship ministry and service.

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv


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Thank God for the spiritual directors of Saint Hildegard of Bingen! Throughout her life, Hildegard shared with spiritual directors her visions and messages from God. Hildegard wrote that she first saw "The Shade of the Living Light" at the age of three, and by the age of five she began to understand that she was experiencing visions, according to Evelyn Underhill in Mystics of the Church.

At age 42, Hildegard felt insecure about her writing and doubted a message she received from God to share her spiritual visions. To help her discern if the message came from God, she wrote to Bernard of Clairvaux for spiritual guidance. He encouraged Hildegard to take seriously God’s instruction to write down her experiences.    

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv

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A red door stands naked in a field. Is it art, I asked myself, driving down a country road on the way to my annual silent retreat. Not likely. What happened to the home around it and the people who lived there, I wondered.

Catching the red door in my rearview mirror, my thoughts shifted away from worrying about the people who once lived in the vanished home. I was drawn to something bigger. Standing upright, hinged to nothing but a door frame, the red door invited a new perspective on the meadow and forest beyond the door. I had to get closer.

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv

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Thank you for Carrying the Torch

Did you know that the Olympic torch relay through the United Kingdom was so carefully planned that almost every person in the UK was within one hour of its route? Imagine if we as spiritual directors wanted to make spiritual accompaniment that accessible. What would it take to create a world where everyone knew where to find a spiritual companion within one hour of his or her location?

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv

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Lessons in Ubuntu

Did you know that many indigenous African languages do not have a word that is equivalent to the English word “stranger?” Tanzanian professor Raymond Mosha explained, “In my native language I would say that I have not met you before. There would be no pejorative connotation as exists with ‘stranger.’” Mosha asked others if they knew an African word for stranger. People from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe confirmed “stranger” did not exist in their native tongue.

During the first conference of spiritual directors from the continent of Africa at Saint Augustine’s College in Johannesburg, South Africa, I witnessed that no one is alien. In God’s eyes, no one is a stranger. No one is an outsider or deviant; everyone is community.

Guest Author: 
Rose Slavkovsky

Spiritual Direction featured in Boston Globe

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Photograph credit: sdiworld.org.

Earlier this month, the Boston Globe featured compassionate listening and Spiritual Directors International in the article “Growing demand for spiritual directors”. Published shortly after the SDI 2012 Cultivating Compassion Educational Events in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, the article highlights several members of SDI and their ministry of spiritual companionship in the greater Boston area.

Guest Author: 
Liz Ellmann, MDiv

One Drop of Water, Joined with Another

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Did you hear the news? Pope Benedict XVI said in Rome on May 19, that every Christian would benefit from spiritual direction! Yes, it’s true. Spiritual direction for more than the theology faculty from around the world that he was addressing. Spiritual direction for more than priests, nuns, and monks.

Spiritual direction for more than Catholics. He said,

“…again the Church continues to recommend the practice of spiritual direction, not only to all those who wish to follow the Lord up close, but to every Christian who wishes to live responsibly his baptism, that is, the new life in Christ.”

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