Talking to Think

We used to tell our creative and vocal daughter when she was a preschooler, “You can think without talking, you know!” Perhaps that was my way of asking for some quiet so that I could think and then perhaps talk.

Most of us, to really hear ourselves think and to sound out the meaning of our lives need both — thinking and talking.  But most of all we need listening.

As a sacramental conversation, spiritual direction includes talking, thinking and deep listening.  It is a stylized or ritualized conversation in that it has a distinct beginning and end and a central focus.  For me that focus is best named as Wisdom.  While there are two chairs in the room – Director and Directee – a Third Partner, Wisdom, hosts the conversation.  Together as reflections arise we listen for the presence and activity of Wisdom, the Source of Life and Love in the directee’s life.


We listen for one thing – Wisdom.  That means we talk about all things.  For Wisdom insinuates itself into all of life. Our sacramental conversation becomes an outward sign of an inward grace: the evolving direction for living one’s life.  The Spiritual Director cannot “give” this direction.  Only the directee can sense when they hear Wisdom deep within, emerging in their own words, desires and intentions.

I am listening.  If you would like to glean along with me from the domain of spiritual direction, check in here.  If you are looking for a spiritual director, contact me.  I have space for listening as you Sound Out Wisdom.

On Silence

Mag asked us to share a reflection on silence as she prepares her sermon for this coming Sunday.  Here is what “came” to me:

Silence is the ever welcoming space of full acceptance and full challenge.

In holy silence, I am my whole self in God

and I keep becoming my whole Self in Christ. 

Like a murky pond after the rain, in silence I return to stillness.

The stirred up sediment of life settles, slowly,

so that I can see into the depths and reflect the blue sky once more.


(photo credit: Still Waters Retreat, Buchanan, MI)


“Voir ou périr” — See or perish

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, priest, palentologist, and prophet of evolutionary view of God and the uiverse, wrote,”Voir ou périr.”  See or perish.

As I read and write today without glasses for the first time in my life, this is striking.  After six eye procedures, beginning on Valentine’s Day, 2018, I finally can SEE without glasses for the first time since I can remember.

I started wearing glasses at age 5 after reporting to my mother, “Look at the bunny.”  It was actually a horse in a field across the way.  I learned to know that I was techinically “legally blind” since, unaided, I could not read a single letter on the eye chart.  When I lost my ability to read close up in my 50’s, my dependence on glasses became complete. Remember that woman you saw swimming with her glasses on? That would have been me.


I declared this year following the end of my career in pastoral ministry the year of “Morphing into Jubilación [the Spanish word for retirement].” Maybe SEEKING NEW VISION would have been more apropos.  

Here’s the story: To correct cataracts I had lens implants in February, designed to give me 20/20 vision.  The correction was not complete.  The lens capsules became cloudy and I in July I had two capsulotomies,the surgeon played painless red laser tag to zap away the cloudy cells. Painless. But still not 20/20. Then Friday I had Lasix surgery on both eyes for the last bit of correction. Now my right eye sees far and my left eye sees near. My brain is putting that together. Pretty well. I went to church “glasses free.”

So when I came to this line today in the Cosmic Campfire Bookclub read, I got it:

“In the end, it’s all about seeing,”

Cynthia Bourgeault, Episcopal priest and Wisdom School teacher, writes. (p. 107)

I feel pretty hip (oops, that’s old slang) having joined a “cosmic” bookclub of 350+ folks via Facebook. The newly released anthology of spiritual memoirs, “how I found GOD in everyone and everywhere” (Andrew M. Davis and Philip Clayton,eds.) is the text for the COSMIC CAMPFIRE BOOKCLUB. It takes the lens of spiritual journeys of eleven clergy, scholars, scientists, philiosphers, healers to invite us club members to take a new look at our own ways of seeing and being.

Here’s what Cynthia said about vision:

…you begin to see in a dynamic, intercirculating, interabiding, cosmotheandric way that preserves both particularity and unity…

…as we open our mystical eye-of-the-heart and see, what we see is a Christianity which has essentially been waiting in the wings for two millenia for the time to arrive when it can finally become consistent in its own hightest cosmotheandric calling: ‘As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us…I in them and you in me, that they may be comletely one.” (John 17:21-23) (pp 111-112)

I am thankful that editor, Andrew M. Davis, says it more simply in the introduction:

In sharing these journeys with readers, we hope to offer a vision of spiritual return and reenchantment. Relating one’s own personal journey to that of others can offer new insight, inspiritual and depth to one’s life and to one’s world…The best journeys, after all, are those that are shared. (xv)

Want to join the journey? Find the COSMIC CAMPFIRE BOOKCLUB here.

Eyes wide open — with brand new grandson, Oliver, just two days old.


Drawing from the Center

I don’t follow the rules. Well, in some things. I am not like my Beloved who considers even public safety rules, like “NO SKATING. THIN ICE” as negotiable and dependent on individual interpretation. Those rules I follow. But when it comes to spiritual disciplines, no matter how “traditional,” I am prone to experimenting — doing my own thing.


Hence, Lent 2015, I cobbled together LECTIO/MANDALA.

A combination of contemplating texts, or life, or dreams — drawing a mandala/circular design — and writing a haiku prayer — this evolving practice was inspired by the tiny journals I found for $1.99 a piece at “The Amish Grocery” (Forks County Line Store) in Middlebury, IN. Continue reading

Stagger Breathing

This Wisdom was found on FB….and reminded me of the wisdom of my choir director, Frank Kuykendall.


I ponder Sabbath.  For myself, I need a “breather” from the news.  When I remember to take 24 hours off of the news cycle, I can return with some perspective.  I have a wider gaze at the world. The wren re-appears, singing her heart out, on the puppy pen fence, and that other bird, so large, goes shooting up into the branches of the slowly dying elm.  What WAS that?

I ponder the fact that we have different Holy Days.  Perhaps Muslims can take their breather on Friday, Jews on Saturday, Christians on Sunday, and then the week of the work of love and resistance can resume.

Stagger breathing requires trust. You must have faith that the people around you will carry on the work without you. In turn, you have to complete the circle by stepping up when others need time off. You have to be aware of the people around you.  ~Marlene Metz Hartzler

In days like these, when I feel breathless, or kicked in the gut gasping, I also remember this song: “THIS IS THE AIR I BREATHE” BY MICHAEL W SMITH

Spirit — Ruah — Holy Breath —

I’m desperate for you!


for us, through us, despite us,

beyond us,

unconsciously committing us to live,

to Life.


“Pentecost” by Mark Wiggin

Storytelling & Listening (with Ken the Fool)

“If we were able to unwind the sunset, would we be able to wind it up again?”      ~Ken Feit/Ken the Fool


I have been meeting with a group called LISTENING TOGETHER for about two years now. We gather at 7 pm on Monday evenings at Pathways Retreat, Goshen, IN.  All are welcome. It is an evolving group, and “seeking Wisdom” would be a good way to state our hopes, I believe.  We sit, we chant together, we practice centering prayer, and we explore where Wisdom leads. We began by studying the book “The Wisdom Jesus” by my teacher, Cynthia Bourgeault.

Now, in this Easter Season, the group is turning to sharing our SACRED STORIES.  And I realized this morning that I was returning to a practice I learned in a college class in 1974. The class was entitled STORYTELLING AND LISTENING.  Continue reading

David Moser: Matrix Reflections

Colleague David Moser shares these reflections as we face the cross:

“For ogeometry_matrix-300x236ur struggle is not against enemies of flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”   Ephesians 6:12


Linda Brown died on Sunday in Topeka, Kansas.  She was 76 years old.  When Linda was a third grader her father tried to enroll her in an all white school just blocks from her house in Topeka.  Her application to attend the school was denied, Continue reading

The Spiral of Surrender

This is the first Holy Week for which I have not “been in charge” (HAH!) for nearly thirty years.  As a ministering person, this is a most intense week of responsibility.  But here I find myself with response-ability afresh.  What does this week of remembrance, the heart of Christian Wisdom, offer?

A friend posted the suggestion to practice SURRENDER this week. At first glance, surrender calls up the image of playing war with my brothers and needing to come our of hiding, waiving a white flag, and being taken prisoner.  Being a loser.  Dying.

Jesus reframes surrender in this Holy Week as he gives himself in full abandonment to love humanity to the core.  Even the rotten core.  Continue reading

Richard Rohr on Wisdom

I am so grateful that Richard Rohr, OFM, is always ahead of me in the wild-erness of Life in G-D.  From cassette tapes in the 80’s, to CD’s to youtube, he has had the generosity and passion for sowing the seeds of Wisdom far and wide.

A member of the Monday night group, Listening @ Pathways, sent a link to this teaching on contemplative prayer.  It is not “new.”  It is a classic example of Perenniel Wisdom.  How do we become transformed people in service of a transforming world?  Continue reading