Subversive Light
Together, looking for the light that changes everything...

Telling the sacred story, Part 1

This is the first of a series that began as an exercise -- a training exercise for those pursuing a call to spiritual companioning (or, as it is often called, spiritual direction).  Living into the charism of a listening ministry requires of all of us that we pursue, each and every day, the continued path of our own spiritual formation.  My telling of my own sacred story is a result of just that formation project and the kind of ongoing work that I do.  I heard wise words this morning, from the Rev. Michele H. Morgan at St. Mark's Episcopal Church.  She was talking about the Gospel text of the…
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Primary Questions: What Do You Mean by Freedom?

Every day this week and last, when I put on the funny looking bicycle helmet and tentatively climb aboard my bright red cruiser to head to the beach, I find that my mind is flooded with a single question:  why, my friend, do you drive all this way and go to all this trouble just to do this one thing? Yes, I am on vacation.  And I am on vacation in one of my favorite places.  I come here over and over again, whenever I can.  I don't golf, I don't play tennis, and really, I don't swim.  I come here for another reason.  I come here to do one…
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Me and contemplative prayer — a love-hate relationship

I begin with this title because it is my truth.  As a spiritual director, I am often asked about contemplative prayer as a practice.  And, if I tell the truth about it, most of my own seeking life, I have danced a couple of different dances with these ideas, contemplation and contemplative prayer.  One dance looks like an angry Tarantella, with contemplation in the role of the spider.  The other dance looks a lot more like the pas de deux from a grand ballet.  In some situations, the idea of what it means to live in contemplation as expressed by teachers or groups has made me feel excluded, an outsider, because…
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Your brain is social…

As Paul Costello, President and Founder of the New Story Leadership project, looked out at the crowd last night in Baxter Hall, he said to all of us assembled there, “Stories can imprison, or stories can empower.” And for the next two hours, we sat and listened to the 2017 fellows of NLS, five 20-somethings from Palestine, 5 from Israel, as they told us their stories – what brought them there, their struggles, their triumphs, their memories, their hopes and dreams for the future.  They told us about a world and a life that we only read about; they were brave and confident and, dare I say, filled with just…
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Maybe this is the explanation…

If you meet me at a party and ask me the great American question, you know the "what do you do with yourself" question, you could get a variety of answers, depending on my mood, the phase of the moon, the day of the week...you get the idea.   Someone who has accepted that her life is a tapestry of things has a few choices when she responds to that question. However, if you find me in a particularly brave state, you might get this answer:  I am busy living into a call to the ministry of spiritual direction. This is the answer that is closest to my heart, and…
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Primary questions…

In these past years of living into my call as someone who walks alongside others on their spiritual journey, I’ll admit that I have struggled with the idea of where to begin.  Not where to begin with my training, which is fruitful and ongoing, but about where to begin when someone actually finds you and takes the trouble to come to you and sit in the chair across from you.  Yes, training courses teach you all about conducting an initial interview, creating a working covenant, outlining the ways in which you approach spiritual direction, and so forth, but there always comes that moment when your new friend's face looks at you…
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The light is there, if you look for it…

Sometimes, like today, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit in awe as the new sun makes itself known in some beautiful setting. I try to take that opportunity when given, because, even though I am by nature an early riser, I often find it difficult to see the sun rise amidst the buildings and the emotional static that comes from living in an urban setting.  Today was one of those days when I took the blessing offered. For me, there is something uniquely mystical about that moment when the light first appears.  This morning, I came out onto the balcony with my tea long before the…
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Love as strong as death…an Ash Wednesday meditation

Yes, it is Ash Wednesday.  And, many of us will find a church somewhere -- our own community or one unfamiliar to us  or a subway station or a street corner -- and take upon ourselves the mark of this day, the simple smear of burned palm leaves and oils that for centuries before has shown the wearer to be a Christian, someone entering the time of fasting and reflection that by our tradition is called Lent. And today, again, depending on where you mark the beginning of this journey, you may hear the words of the prophet Joel, who decries the darkness all around and calls the people to…
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Present…

I am writing to you from an undisclosed location on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Okay, I'll confess -- I've just always wanted to say those words, "from an undisclosed location," because I have seen too many espionage movies and television shows. Truthfully, I am in the final hours of a twenty-four hour personal "retreat", an activity (or non-activity?) with which I have some discomfort.  I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of the contemplative life as portrayed in many of the wonderful books out there; most days I am so palpably aware of the presence of God in every fiber of my being that I can barely function according to…
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Catching up on a little reading…

What good is a slightly rainy vacation if you can't catch up on a little reading?  And my backlog is substantial.  For example, when the new Diana Butler Bass work Grounded  magically appeared in my Kindle carousel the other day, I cringed as I remembered that I had not yet finished her last book, Christianity without Religion (2012).  I like to read an author's work sequentially whenever possible so that I can follow the thread of their thinking and theorizing.  That quirk in my personality meant that it was time to finish Christianity without Religion, so I picked it up again or I would never be able to begin reading Grounded, a book I have…
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