Our Stories:
News and Notes from Calvary

Led by the Spirit

by Terry Johnson

Before I moved to Memphis, I had never been south of Indiana. When I arrived, I was surprised when the first question people asked was not, "What do you do?" or, "Where do you live?" but, "Do you have a church home?" followed by an invitation to join them at their next service regardless of my answer. I lived in Chicago, New York and Detroit, all cities which embraced spiritual diversity, and although many of my friends and colleagues were churchgoers, an equal number were not.  

As a yoga instructor, I found a community of people who began having deeper experiences of God as they moved their bodies. After all, the main purpose of doing yoga asana (postures) is to quiet the body to allow for grounded prayer and meditation. I realized that I needed a broader vocabulary with which to connect to my students, so I applied and was accepted to the Spiritual Direction program at the San Francisco Theological Seminary.  

Spiritual Direction is an art that is having a resurgence in Christian communities. It involves two individuals; one called a director and the other a directee, meeting for a one-hour session. When I sit with a directee, I don't spend much time talking. Instead, we deliberately invite the Holy Spirit into the conversation. I listen contemplatively, staying open to ways in which the Spirit might be working. Our interaction mindfully and purposefully focuses on where God might be speaking personally to the directee through whatever experience he or she brings into the room. I've grieved and celebrated with people who come to see me. I find that tears and laughter are both ways in which God tries to capture our attention. One of my professors used to say that Spiritual Direction is the practice of sitting with someone and taking a "long, loving look at the real."  

Last year, our rector, Chris Girata, had a vision for a new ministry at Calvary that would incorporate elements of spiritual direction. This new ministry, called the Calvary Shepherd Society, helps guide members of Calvary to identify and use their own spiritual gifts. The Calvary Shepherds have been trained and are entrusted to sit with each member who has gone through the Discovery Class in order to help them discern where God may be calling them to work in our church community. Our inaugural Shepherd cohort is made up of nine amazing people who are compassionate, insightful, and love to listen. Their training with me consisted of time set aside for group body movement, Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina and contemplative listening exercises. These ancient practices are beautiful ways to embody our spirituality and connect with the Holy Mystery.  

If you desire to experience some time with a soul friend who will listen to you deeply and without judgment, looking for ways God might be calling you to deepen your connection to our community, please reach out to me or to a Calvary Shepherd. It would be a blessing for any of us to walk the journey with you.   

Paz, Shalom, Namaste and many blessings to you!

Posted by Robyn Banks at 10:37 AM
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