April 15, 2021

Kindness might need a defender. From the 2016 presidential election on, there’s been a debate about effective responses to racism, sexism, heterosexism, questions of immigration reform, systemic injustice — and even just plain rudeness. Do we meet “fire with fire” in our response, do we walk away, or do we handle such dialogue with kindness? Self-proclaimed “kindness enthusiast” and Presbyterian pastor Bruce Reyes-Chow explores those options and more in his new book, “In Defense of Kindness: Why It Matters, How… Read more

March 15, 2021

  In a world full of solutions, opinions, and advice, listening is one of the most important gifts we can offer one another. It is an act of healing and vision. For people of faith and their communities, the gift of listening both to one another and God offers a path to spiritual renewal and grants congregations a vision of their identity. In a time when congregations are experiencing a steep decline in membership and facing significant uncertainty, learning to… Read more

February 9, 2021

We’re stuck online for now. Are Zoom, Skype, or Doxy the way we’ll do spiritual direction forever? This is the question for spiritual directors and their clients after 10 months of pandemic social distancing. There are pros and cons to the online life, and tricks to doing it with style that I will address here. Some spiritual directors have decided that working from their home computer via online video has opened a new world for them. Prior to the pandemic,… Read more

January 19, 2021

Imagine the shock and disgust that rippled through mainline and progressive Christianity in this country after the New Yorker video from the January 6 insurrection showed a group of rioters standing around the Senate President’s chair in the Senate chamber pray, holding hands in the air praising God for their success at storming the Capital. One rioter who was interviewed after the event said he consulted God three times before coming, and each time “he didn’t hear a no.” Discerning… Read more

December 21, 2020

The Bible isn’t one-way communication, we can engage with it. This living text invites us to respond, question, debate, and celebrate its offering. When we begin to “talk back” to scripture, it comes alive and becomes interactive. Our critical thinking skills engage with our spiritual “feelers,” strengthening our faith. There are numerous ways to engage with scripture, but below is one I find incredibly useful: Read the Luke version of the birth of Jesus, Luke 2: 1-20. Read it slowly… Read more

November 29, 2020

  Sports psychologists use visualization. So do shamans and spiritual directors. Visualization is a powerful tool for releasing minor fears and negative self-talk. Here are a few suggestions from experts in imagination: Lock It Away: In “Bird by Bird,” writer Anne Lamott shares a technique for silencing negative self-talk. Each nagging voice is visualized as a mouse that she picks up and puts in an imaginary jar. The mice lose power as their voices are silenced in the lidded jar…. Read more

October 23, 2020

Two commonly heard phrases (or some variation) I have noticed on social media: “Are you OK?” “2020 can’t come to a close fast enough.” So, I thought I’d ask: are you OK in this long presidential election pandemic year? Can you say with Julian of Norwich “all will be well” and mean it? I’m mostly OK, thank God, but I have moments of cloudy thinking, blue moods and yes, sometimes, a small crisis of faith. I’m grateful that no one… Read more

August 28, 2020

What exactly is spiritual direction? Shepherd Heart Ministry Consulting’s Executive Director Dr. Melissa Hofstetter sat down to interview me about that very question — because the term “spiritual direction” needs to be fully understood. Generally, spiritual direction means meeting every few weeks with a spiritual director, or spiritual companion. Since there’s a form of it in just about any religion (it comes up a lot in the Catholic faith), directors go by many names. What all of these forms share… Read more

July 22, 2020

Parents of school-aged children are currently facing the hardest discernment situation one can face: making a choice when there is no good choice. If children are forced back to school in person, there is the risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus — which, if contracted, can hurt children. It can also make them a vector, someone who carries the virus with no symptoms and infects others. If children are not allowed to go back to school, they must learn in… Read more

July 6, 2020

  It’s not uncommon to hear a client say, “I’m exhausted at the end of the spiritual direction session.” Spiritual directors also can feel wiped out after a series of sessions in one day. That’s because heart work is hard work. The same thing can happen in therapy or pastoral care. Taking a long look at your inner life with someone trained in helping you do that is a deeply personal and soul-searching kind of work, probably much different than… Read more

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