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Spiritual Directors International

The Home of Spiritual Companionship

Blogs

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. 

Guest Author: 
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin

 

As news of soul-staggering violence against others spins around the globe, we, too, may feel ourselves spinning; dizzy from reading angry rhetoric; lost in the maelstrom trying to figure out what we can and should do to quell the calm.

As a spiritual guide—and I’m certain you have experienced this also—others expect that you will hold steady in difficult times such as these. They look to us to be the calm in the storm, the safe place to express their grief, worry and anger. As spiritual confidants, they know we certainly must feel strongly about what is happening in the world, but we know how to hold our tangled thoughts and emotions prayerfully.

Do we? Are you? These questions tug at me lately (and have since November 2016 with the U.S. election). I not only observe, but sit, with other guides, pastors, priests and care-giving professionals who struggle doing so.

Guest Author: 
Dr. Bruce Tallman

 

God does not have to “intervene” in human affairs, as if God was swooping in from the outside, because God is everywhere and always has been. If anything, we humans are the interlopers, not God. As psychologist Carl Jung engraved in stone above his home’s entrance, “Summoned or not, God will be there.”

When Moses asked God what God’s name was, God said “I Am.” In other words, God is pure being, or “Being-Itself.” But God is also “Becoming-Itself.” God’s love is moving the whole evolutionary process forward toward God’s reign of wisdom, joy, justice, peace, and love.

This is evidenced by the fact that evolution has consistently moved in a spiritual direction: from rocks and water to plants and animals to humans and further to the spread of major religions around the world. So the direction is: matter to life to thought to spirit.

As a thought-experiment, let’s consider that possibly Jesus wanted to take things a further step, to a religion beyond religion — a meta-religion for everyone (“meta” means “beyond”).

Guest Author: 
Brian J. Plachta

 

I wake early so I can light a candle and place it in my window. 

Its light illuminates my darkness and, perhaps, the darkness of the world. The reverent glow flickering from quiet candlelight serves as a beacon for the birds who visit the feeder outside my sill.  As they find morning nourishment, they feather simple joy upon my heart.

I wake early because when I do, I recall the miracle of my breath. I feel the beating of my heart. And my dog’s snoring at my feet becomes a choir.

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.

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