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Spiritual housekeeping

Looking forward, looking back, looking inside

By Carolyn Pogue

’Tis the season of resolutions and fresh starts. I’ve been cleaning closets, drawers and the garage. While my hands are busy, the rest of me is free for some interior housekeeping.

In a world spinning faster each year, soul work is more important than ever. We don’t travel on the information highway anymore; it’s more like a gerbil’s racing wheel.

Fifteen minutes a day can help restore our spirit with prayer, meditation or reading. I love the books of short meditations by author Donna Sinclair of North Bay, Ont. Her latest, The Long View, is like a cold glass of water on a hot summer day. And Rev. Bruce Sanguin, minister at Canadian Memorial United in Vancouver, wrote If Darwin Prayed: Prayers for Evolutionary Mystics. He offers “the science of evolution . . . as sacred story.” Beautiful.

This year you may wish to explore your spiritual path with a guide. In the ancient practice of spiritual direction, individuals find someone trained to accompany them as they seek to connect with the Holy. Leone O’Byrne has worked as a spiritual director in Calgary for 20 years. Her practice is based in the Ignatian tradition, which means that her teachers drew on the work of St. Ignatius, a medieval wild man turned mystic.

O’Byrne’s background as a social worker, community group facilitator, student of spiritual practices, sex educator, board member and church leader prepared her for the work. “I evolved into it,” she says.

The director’s responsibility is to guide, question, nurture and support. “It came as a surprise that my own spiritual growth is so enhanced by being part of another’s journey,” O’Byrne says. “It’s demanding and rewarding work; Spirit flows through all parts of our lives.”

For the curious, she recommends the works of Franciscan priest Richard Rohr and the classic The Practice of Spiritual Direction by William J. Connolly and William A. Barry.

Carol Hayes completed her training as a spiritual director in 2011. “As a director, you become a vessel for God to work through,” she says. “Although I am Christian, this practice proliferates in other faiths, too.”

Hayes is a Calgary wife and the mother of teenaged boys. She was a teacher; her earlier life also involved church work with women, children and youth, as well as music leadership. She has spent years learning meditation, cultivating a prayer practice and taking Scripture-based courses. She had a spiritual director for 10 years before making the decision to train to become one. “I thought I’d have to wait until I was 70 before I could begin training. Evidently, God thought otherwise,” Hayes says.

“The great thing about this work is that it’s my obligation and privilege to put time aside every day to be with God,” she continues. “Giving up my own plans and letting God lead was exceptionally freeing.”

To find a spiritual guide near you, Hayes recommends Googling “spiritual director” and your location or going to the Spiritual Directors International website. Meet with the director to see if there is a good connection for you. The cost is variable; just ask.

I wish you a refreshing New Year!



Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
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