About Me

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I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Practice of Discernment (again)

It has been awhile since I updated this blog - will try to do better this summer (2015) by including some musings on topics that are coming up in my teaching and retreat work over this next few months.
One of these will be a workshop on discernment for the Doctor of Ministry program at Virginia Theological Seminary.  Here's a post that can be a resource for folks in that class as well as for other readers.

This post also appeared in "Toast" - the Young Adult Ministry blog for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington

“I have come that they might have life,” Jesus says, and that they might have it abundantly”(John 10:10) .  How can I tell whether a new idea or opportunity that is attracting is in tune with who God made me to be?  What do I do with this feeling of restlessness I’ve been having lately? Where is God in this difficult situation?  What am I supposed to do now?  All these questions are rooted in the deeper question: what is God’s dream for my life? The  Christian practice of “discernment” helps us keep track of that call to abundant  life, both for ourselves and the world around us. Here are three core approaches:

Checking in with God – the “examen” One way of practicing  daily discernment is a simple practice of checking in with God each day – 5 minutes, just beginning with a few deep breaths, to rest in God’s presence and love, and then ask God “Where did I meet you today?”  and “Where did I miss you” – these questions frame the Ignatian practice of the daily “examen.”  They help us remember that God is always present in our lives, and invite us to pay attention.

Spiritual Friendships :  Discernment is not a solitary practice: We all need companions, whether a formal “spiritual director”  or a good friend, who can help us step back and ask “where is God in this situation?”  Who is that person in your life?

Discernment in community:  The clearness committee, practice from the Quaker tradition, inviting a group of faithful people to come together and listen for God’s leadings, asking open-ended, non-judgmental questions, without giving advice, can help us listen for God’s will in a life-decision.

More resources on discernment can be found on my website, “Discerning Your Way in Life  http://poetproph-discerningyourway.blogspot.com/