Spirituality

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Illustration by Khara Scott-Bey from Big Topics at Midnight

When business and government and culture hold up reason and logic as the only sources of truth, how do we learn to listen to that soft guidance of Spirit calling to us?

How do I talk about Spirit in a way that is honest and also isn’t caught in divisive assumptions? It’s a challenge.

My spiritual path is Christian. Jesus lights my heart on fire and guides the way—this is something I experience in my life and know in my bones rather than just believe in my mind. Simultaneously, I am aware of disturbing cultural values that have swept into the Christian Church—patriarchy, colonialism and patriotism to name a few. Nonetheless, just like my white skin or being a native Texan, being Christian is part of who I am.

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Photo by Noa Mohlabane

For most of my life, the boundaries of my faith expanded beyond my church. While I still stand within the Christian tradition, I’ve stretched the edges of my faith by reincorporating forgotten wisdom (Jesus’s radical call to love, forgiveness, justice and community with friends, strangers and even enemies) and embracing aspects of the spiritual life too often overlooked by the Church (such as most of the feminine aspects of the divine). When it comes to the Spirit, I’ve always wanted more, and I’ve been given amazing teachers, mentors and guides to explore all of the different ways spirituality can be expressed and experienced.

My own faith stands on the strength of paradoxes: Things seen and unseen, a spiritual journey that brings both the “peace that passeth understanding”* and the wild, bumpy ride of transformation, Sabbath and work, urgent global or personal needs and the wisdom in waiting for guidance, spirit and culture.

Thinking about paradoxes for too long can tie my brain in knots, but living them has made all the difference.

Spiritual transformation sometimes requires going on a pilgrimage. For me, this journey involved going to North Carolina, my ancestral land, Wichita Falls, Texas, my birth homeland and Mercy Center, in Burlingame, California, a place that has been one of my spiritual homes for 30 years:

Continue the Big Topic Conversations

I continue to dive deeper into spirituality on my Big Topics Blog:

Let Your Heart Break #3: Joy
The Wisdom to Stay Still
We Confess
Strangers and Stories

Businesses or organizations that support my Spirit journey:

Be Present, Inc.
Community Wholeness Venture
Harvest Time
St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church Portland, Oregon
Shalom Prayer Center, Mt. Angel, Oregon
Presentation center for retreats:
    Presentation Prayer Center Fargo, ND
    Presentation Center Los Gatos, CA
Mercy Center for retreats, Burlingame, California
And an organization that supported my Spirit journey at a critical time:
Academy for Spiritual Formation

Spirituality Reading Corner:

Cynthia Bourgeault. The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind—a New Perspective on Christ and His Message (Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2008)
I especially love the third chapter, in which Bourgeault digs into Jesus’s statement that the “Kingdom of God is within you.”

Alan W. Jones. Journey into Christ (New York: Seabury Press, 1977)
I was first given this book in 1988, and now am slowly savoring it again. It is a powerful guide for those times when it feels like I am traveling through a wasteland (like the forty years the Israelites wandered through the wilderness) or about to drown in the turbulent seas (like Jesus’s disciples one stormy night) along the journey of faith.

Caroline Myss and Andrew Harvey. Divine Rebels: Saints, Mystics, Holy Change Agents—and You (CD format. Lousiville, CO: Sounds True, 2012)
What can I say? As a holy change agent myself, I love hearing both Myss’s and Harvey’s perspectives on the radical spiritual journey.

*Philippians 4:7

To accept Thurston's offer of companionship for this very wild ride is to be invited … no, to be catapulted into one's own adventure of spiritual discovery and discernment.
-David Schlafer, Episcopal priest, homiletics professor, and author of Your Way with God's Word, The Shattering Sound of Amazing Grace, and Preaching What We Practice.

Nancy's willingness to explore the voices within and to follow the leading of the Spirit in her choices is a powerful witness for those who seek transformation in the world for the sake of our children.
-Rose Feerick, Director of Harvest Time and mother of two boys

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