I think I’ve discussed community before on this blog, sometime in its six or seven years of existence. There have been times, I’d have to admit, when I was a little hazy myself on the importance of community, especially in relation to the issue of spirituality. It’s a temptation for an introvert to focus her spirituality into avenues that are not dependent on the presence or participation of other people.

So, I was intrigued by how much my attention was drawn to, and has returned to, a paragraph in Wendell Berry’s novel Hannah Coulter.

The paragraph is presented as the public comment of a character named Burley Coulter (one of my favorite characters in the story), who is known for referring to residents of the village of Port William, Kentucky, as all being part of a membership. The paragraph reads as follows:

“Oh, yes, brothers and sisters, we are members one of another. The difference, beloved, ain’t in who is and who’s not, but in who knows it and who don’t. Oh, my friends, there ain’t no nonmembers, living nor dead nor yet to come. Do you know it? Or do you don’t? A man is a member of a woman and a worm. A woman is a member of a man and a mole. Oh, beloved, it’s all one piece of work.”

We’ve all heard expressions of similar concepts: “We are all one.” “We’re all in this together.” “No man is an island.”  But somehow Burley’s statement about membership strikes a chord that the others don’t quite manage. The difference, for me, is between anonymity and known identity. Burley’s statement eliminates anonymity in favor of a sense of belonging. And with belonging goes a natural, mutual responsibility for the others in the membership. Even an introvert likes to know where she belongs.

So, what does that have to do with “everyday spirituality”? What comes immediately to mind is the passage in Isaiah 54, recorded in The Message this way: “Clear lots of ground for your tents! Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big! Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep. You’re going to need lots of elbow room for your growing family….” [This passage of Scripture also figured in the September 22, 2016, post.]

“Your growing family” is another phrase for your membership. The more deeply you go into your spiritual self, the more your spiritual world can expand the coverage of its tent to recognize others as part of your membership.

As Burley would say: Do you recognize your membership or do you don’t?


Spiritual ADD

Several days ago I happened to catch a TV program featuring Kerry Shook, senior pastor of a congregation in Texas. Kerry is an excellent communicator, but what grabbed my attention was his topic: “Spiritual ADD.” I do not recall that he spoke to that topic at any length – most of the sermon time was given to a very effective presentation by his wife, Chris – but Kerry’s topic sparked my imagination.

These days it would be hard to find anyone who doesn’t know that ADD means Attention Deficit Disorder or that key symptoms may include hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattentiveness. ADHD is another term used for it. In fact, the latest twist on the name is “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder predominantly inattentive (ADHD–PI).” I’m surprised anyone can pay attention long enough to get that entire name out! Depending on how broadly ADHD or ADD is defined, as much as 5% of the world population is believed to show symptoms of it.

Spiritual ADD likely affects a much higher percentage of the population. I would suggest that the key symptom is inattentiveness to one’s spiritual life. It would be easy to blame the technology available to us today and how devoted we all seem to be to keeping up with our electronic devices. But even though technological innovations surround us like never before, there is no greater reason now than ever to allow them to supplant the time and attention our spiritual lives require.

Unlike the usual types of ADD/ADHD, spiritual ADD has a cure. Spending a little time every day in silence, focused on your own inner self, inviting communion with the divine element within you is really all you need to do to resolve spiritual ADD. You can choose to use a zabuton cushion or a simple chair. You can choose to be indoors or outdoors. If you are really fortunate, you might even find a place like the one pictured here: a private bench at Meditation Mount near Ojai, California.

Make your spiritual life a priority; the rewards will astound you!



Why Do People Sign on for Spiritual Direction?

When you contact a spiritual director, you can expect that one of the first questions you will be asked is: “What are you looking for in spiritual direction?” Another way the question may be asked is: “What do you hope to accomplish in spiritual direction?”

In the past, my own answer to this question when I was the directee has probably been a little vague, which isn’t uncommon. So much of our spirituality isn’t really rational, so why would we think we would always have a reasoned, rational explanation for where we are spiritually? My answers have usually been along the lines of: “Guidance is a good thing, especially in something as important as my spirituality.” Sometimes people I’ve seen as directees have been a little more direct: “I’ve been feeling a little lost lately, and I think that spiritual direction will help me get more grounded.” One person said, “It’s time I did a little growing.”

After a hiatus of a few years, I recently resumed being a directee myself—in large part because I see directees on an ongoing basis and know that it is important to be in direction at the same time. This time when that question came addressed to me, an answer came readily to my lips, even though I had not thought about it ahead of time. “Because I need a place where I can be in conversation about spirituality.”

This is a new answer. I’m no longer looking for a one-directional situation, in which I am simply a receiver, whether a receiver of direction, advice, grounding, support, reinforcement, or whatever. Now I am looking for the mutual, two-directional situation. I want to talk with someone who speaks the same language, will understand what I am talking about, will know how to address the subjects that are important to me, and will be able to receive from me as much as I receive from her/him.

If you think you might be interested in spiritual direction, check out Spiritual Directors International (website: to find out more about the practice. Especially look at the Seek and Find Guide to find spiritual directors in your area. Click on the tab “Find a Spiritual Director” to access the Guide.


Nudgings of God

My novel Dancing on the Whisper of God starts with a predawn “whisper” experienced by a choreographer in San Francisco one morning in 1993. Several people have asked me about this whisper: Was it supposed to be a actual, audible voice? Was it meant to be the voice of God? How believable is it that the Divine Spirit might actually “talk” to people?

This reminds me of something Wayne Dyer said once (and I think he may have been quoting Lilly Tomlin): “Why is it that when we talk to God, it’s called prayer, but when God talks to us, it’s called schizophrenia?”

Well, there’s no schizophrenia in my novel, but there is a fair amount of communication from God. Do I think that God talks to us in actual, audible voices? No. Was the whisper in the book meant to be the voice of God? Yes. How believable is it that the Divine Spirit actually talks to people? Very believable, but the vehicle of the communication can be any number of things.

All of us have had the experience, when something goes wrong, of saying, “I knew I wasn’t supposed to do that! Why didn’t I listen to my intuition?” Or maybe we are thinking of buying something, and there’s a peace we feel in our hearts about the decision. Or maybe someone calls you on the phone and as soon as you hear their idea, your belly gets uneasy. Or maybe it’s a flash of insight offering a resolution to a problem you’ve been having. Or maybe it’s a nudging one day when you’re going through your mail, and you’ve ignored a dozen different requests for charitable giving, but then comes one that you just feel compelled to respond to. Or maybe you have a dream that gives you, in symbol form, the exact answer you were seeking.

All of these, I would say, are “whispers” of God. The King James version of the Bible calls it a “still small voice” [I Kings 19:12]. The NIV calls it “a gentle whisper.”

Where in your life have you been receiving the gift of a nudging from God? Have you learned to pay attention?

If you are in or near Seattle, above is your invitation to a reading from Dancing on the Whisper of God set for April 30. I’d love to see you there! If the link at the top of this post isn’t working, visit:


Retroactive Grace

One of the evidences that spirituality is an “everyday” thing is how frequently spiritual or religious references show up in our culture.

I happened to see the 2006 movie Freedomland recently. The link will take you to a Wikipedia page that explains the plot. In brief, a young boy is missing, then found dead. Accusations are made against innocent people until the tragic truth is discovered. The lead characters are Julianne Moore as the boy’s mother and Samuel L. Jackson as the police detective. When the detective visits the boy’s mother in prison, he reflects upon his own personal history and tells her: “God’s grace is sorta like retroactive.”

What he means by this is that God’s grace has touched his life, giving him a chance to make up for past failures. That he can recognize this in his own life suggests that the same grace is available to her.

Even for people (like all of us) who have made mistakes, done things for which they have difficulty forgiving themselves, entrapped themselves in spirals of guilt and regret, God’s grace is available. It’s present; it’s future; it’s even retroactive. And if we think that our mistakes reveal our weaknesses, all the better.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes of asking God to rid him of a particular torment, a thorn in his flesh, but in response to his pleading, God said: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (NIV). The Amplified text spells it out more clearly: “My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness.” [2 Corinthians 12:9]

Our only role when it comes to God’s grace is to accept it.


Who’s an Author?

Rob Eagar posted a “Monday Morning Tip” this morning making the claim that there is no such thing as an author. Sort of a provocative way to start a workweek for us writers! Here is an encapsulating line from his post: “It’s not the act of writing that makes someone an author. It’s the act of someone else buying what you wrote.” Okay, that’s pretty provocative too.

It appears to be a reality of publishing today – regardless of the route by which your writing reaches print – that writers have to do their own marketing. This is viewed as daunting to most of us, but for some of us, it’s a world of promise. It hearkens back to the words of wisdom most of us heard repeatedly in our youth: “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” I don’t mean that major publishing houses can’t do marketing well; just that these days they tend to devote their marketing funds to already established writers.

Maintaining regular spiritual practices can help with the marketing process in more ways than one. First, of course, staying deeply in tune with your spirituality fosters a state of calm for approaching the task. Second, spending regular time in silence helps to clarify in your mind avenues that will be helpful to you and those unlikely to be. Third, and probably most important, frequent prayer keeps you connected with the knowledge that you do not have to go it alone.

So, move forward in marketing what you have written, and become an author – by Rob Eagar’s definition or anyone else’s.


Surfacing from Busyness

This month is the two-year anniversary of when this blog was launched. Anniversaries are always good occasions for pausing to remember the reasons one is doing something, whether it’s being in a relationship, working at a company, continuing in a group, or maintaining a blog.

The foundational intention for the blog was to be about two things: becoming aware of our spirituality every day of our lives … and how to experience this extraordinary gift on such a regular basis that it actually becomes our ordinary, “everyday” life.

But that very first entry, two years ago, acknowledged that daily life inserts itself constantly and demands our attention, with the result that we might go all day without realizing the peace and serenity that are available to us if we can only stop long enough to let them surface.

When those times happen to me – as they have relentlessly this past month – the best thing I can do is sit in silence and let myself sink back into the awareness of the Spirit that is still there waiting. The connection to the all-encompassing Spirit never goes away, never abandons us. We have to keep in mind that if we’re feeling the absence of God, it isn’t God that moved.