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Spiritual Directors International

The Home of Spiritual Companionship


Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell

The best mindfulness practice is always the one that can be done now.

So let’s go. Find the nearest door. Step outside. Find a tree. A tall one if you can. Full of autumn color. Don’t think. Just look up.

This is impromptu mindfulness. An adventure without an itinerary. A journey without a destination. Agile. Ad lib. Right now.

Watching those leaves at the top of the tree? Superb. How does it feel? The air on your face — is it cold? Your breath billows of steam? Did you forget your coat?

No worry. This mindfulness doesn't have to take long.

Guest Author: 
Tessi Mukrat Rickabaugh

I maintain a pretty active social media presence. As a spiritual director who works primarily with younger people, this is an important part of how I am being in the world. I share things which reflect the values I find to be important: beauty, empathy, love, contemplative presence. I also engage in conversations with people across the political, social and religious spectrum, working to bring these same values to those who might not experience them in their daily life or churches. 

Approaching conversations, on social media and in person, from a contemplative stance means that sometimes phrases or thoughts push themselves to the forefront, just as they do in spiritual direction sessions. The past few months, one of those phrases has asserted itself frequently, surfacing over and over in a wide variety of conversations.

"It doesn't matter how you feel about it."

Guest Author: 
Rev. Brenda Buckwell


I am a ballroom dancer.  The conversation between partners, the lead and the follow, is one of wordless articulation.  The lead initiates the story: go here, turn there, spin right then pause … and go. The follow listens intently with the entire body for nuances of inward expression to match the lead’s steps.

Spiritual direction follows a similar pattern. The dance of dialogue through storytelling and holy listening is breathtaking to behold.

Guest Author: 
Bruce Tallman


The beginning of an effective solution to events like the recent ones in Charlottesville and Barcelona might be found in listening to three contemporary wise men.

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.


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