Tag Archives: Religion & Spirituality

My heart and calling to spiritual direction

Spiritual direction has a bit of a negative connotation in our independent and “don’t-step-on-my-toes-or-tell-me-what-to-do” culture. It has, however, been an accepted and necessary component to the spiritual journey within every historical faith and spiritual tradition for thousands of years. How is it that now, we think we do not need it?

From the moment I head-first dove into my spiritual pursuit of connection with God, I have felt a deep, deep calling to support my community on their own spiritual journeys. For me, this looks very much like spiritual direction. As I am finally engaged in my formal education of this very important offering, I welcome insight, but also those who would engage me in this process. You can go to the page on Spiritual Companioning for more information on what I am offering.  I very much encourage you to read what I have written there.

At the heart of my passion is the need for those who will ask us the right questions. MaryKate Morse writes in Presence journal:

[Spiritual direction] is an art because listening to a person speak while also seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit requires a creative attentiveness to the process. Spiritual directors impose no expectations on time with our spiritual directees beyond believing that God is present and loves. The questions themselves are spiritual because we are not doing therapy or disciplining individuals toward a church’s or faith’s particular understanding of the spiritual life. We are not trying to teach doctrine or resolve a crisis. We ask questions to discover where God is moving in someone’s life.

This art of asking the right questions is one I have been interested in and focusing on for many years now. There is a need for focusing on it and at the same time, letting go. I will reflect more on this in the next post.

The Celtic Hearth – epicenter of community and spirituality

The hearth is the heart of the Celtic home. There is a very old tradition of burning turf, or dried earth, for warmth and cooking in the hearth. The hearth also serves as a gathering place for community, family, and friends, a fact that may hint at a link between two Gaelic words: teallach (“hearth”) and teallagh (“family”).

The hearth is a place where stories are told. It is a place where the family traditionally gathers befre the start of a day and at the day’s conclusion. From the sound of the fiddle to the giggles of children listening to old family stories, from the hot water of a boiling teakettle splattering on stones to a fresh loaf of bannock bread beng pulled fro the fire: the hearth is a hub of activity in the Celtic world, ancient and modern.

In the Celtic tradition the hearth is the heart of the family, both biological and spiritual. Traditionally, the hearth is a site where the Celtic family gathers for both physical nourishment (for cooking and eating) and for spiritual nourishment (in the form of story telling, spiritual teaching, prayer, and healing). It is widely understood in the Celtic world that the hearth is a sacred place. It is a practical, yet spiritual, epicenter of Celtic culture. In essence, with the nourishment of the soul through spiritual practice at the hearth, we see very clearly John Scotus Eriugena‘s notion of the spiritual cosmos of the human being in the Celtic hearth tradition. Heaven and earth are enjoined in this single place within the home. Nourishment of the body and nourishment of the soul become interconnected; a spiritual cosmos is born and sustained.

- Frank MacEowen, The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers, and Seekers

One year ago… Unanswered prayer… a response and a theology

As I am sitting here at George Fox Sem, I am reminded of these posts from last year. Enjoy!

Folks, I want what I do to be for the village… the community… the place where the spiritual unites with the physical.

So, for me, taking classes at George Fox Seminary to get my certificate in spiritual formation is about more than just me. I am doing it because it is what I must do… for the community and for God.

I recently finished my semester paper for my class on prayer and as I wrote it with the community in mind it is important for me to share it here. I will be posting it up in sections over the next week or so. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

To read part 1, Starting with Prayer,  GO HERETo read part 2, Prayer and it’s place in the Spiritual Life (pt 2), GO HERETo read part 3, The difficulty of sustaining our prayer life, GO HERE

Unanswered prayer… a response and a theology

Perhaps the one of the most difficult reasons for maintaining a sustainable prayer practice and perhaps one of the most painful parts of being in relationship with a God who is so much greater than any of us. How do I respond to someone who prays for healing of a loved one and does not receive it? How do I respond to someone who prays in his infertility that God would give him children and yet still remains childless? So much pain and so many unknowns…

I do believe that God calls us to compassion and presence, but not necessarily answers. Compassion is entering into the suffering of another, as Jesus entered into our suffering. This is being the presence of Christ to my community. Compassion may very well be just sharing the tears and the burdens while so deeply dwelling in the terrible, “I do not know…” So someone who’s prayers are not answered? It is the spiritual leader’s responsibility to provide compassionate presence… whether it be from myself, or from the community. Again, there are no good answers as to why or how or when or what… It is so much easier to go into this as a leader, even slightly. How much more difficult it is to allow someone to be in their pain, their anger, and their blame! Walter Wangerin, in his beautiful book, Mourning into Dancing, says that we MUST let the griever blame God. Better God blamed than others because God is the only one that can so lovingly take on this blame. This is hard for the spiritual leader trying to give the “right” kind of help.

Unanswered prayer part 2 can be found here.

Rohr – Christians have a phd in “either/or”

Thank you for your words, once again, Richard. Here, he talks about the all-too-common dualism in Christianity (about the 7:00 mark). From the Evolutionary Christianity website.

Richard Rohr on Evolutionary Christianity

Other highlights…

  • how did we go from the inclusive son of God, who spends time with tax collectors, sinners, and prostitutes into an exclusive religion in his honor? (44:00)
  • all creation is incarnation, not just in us, or in Jesus, but all the way back t0 15 billion years ago.
  • If it’s compassion, it’s universal compassion.
  • If only we can stop seeing ourselves merely as a religion in competition with, and see ourselves as a gift, as all religions are a gift to us. If we can just be Jesus to the world and let the cards fall where they may (as Mother theresa said). If Christians could just be Jesus, rather than making him into a product or an opponent, always one who builds boundaries instead of bridges… that would be the evolution of Christianity and a much more gracious world. (54:00)

“Serious” Spirituality

Two young seekers reflect together on the paradox and dynamic of being young men dedicated to the spiritual path.

One says, “I have found that if I am going to surround myself with people dedicated to serious spirituality, I am usually going to be one of the youngest in the room.”

“Serious” spirituality, eh? I didn’t know that spirituality was such a serious thing! I am struck most often with the lack of seriousness in the most influential spiritual teachers… why do you think that is? I suppose because they recognize that most things don’t really matter that much after all.

When I look at Jesus, I don’t see him as a deeply serious man. Not trite or jovial, necessarily… but not too serious. He talked about banquets where all were invited and no one came… he talked about paying people equal wages no matter what work they had done… he talked about life in the kingdom, life of love, forgiveness, no worries. I see him saying these things with a wink and a smile. Because he knew, he understood, he saw behind and around the seriousness.