Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘discernment’

Cultivate Spiritual Awareness

Cultivate Spiritual Awareness

Mentors teach and guide us. I know this to be true: when the student is ready, the teacher will come. Perhaps you do too. Who are the important people who have arrived in your life at distinctive times and places? At this time—are you seeking to learn, know, or experience something specific that you can identify and name? Do you wrestle with an inner restlessness that may want to reveal something to you about your life, work, a relationship, action of service, creative endeavor, or spiritual inquiry? Have you experienced a person approaching you for mentoring or guidance?

A mentor can be a valuable person who illuminates life lessons and insights. Mentors appear in many forms, and often surprise or challenge us. Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, a thirteenth century Persian Muslim poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic wrote, “The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you; Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want; Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.”

Central to our human existence and evolution is the capacity to listen. In order to listen deeply, many find it helpful to make  a commitment to a spiritual practice. A spiritual practice allows us to participate in dynamic stillness—a moment of strength when we think we cannot go on, a rootedness in the present moment. A regular spiritual practice develops the necessary courage and resiliency to reconcile dissonance and polarity.

When we cultivate and grow peace in our hearts, learn with our bodies and minds, and contribute to our families and communities, an opportunity presents itself: live with integrity and awareness. Every day we have the choice to up-level our communication with others—and our own inner dialogue—agreeing to align and interact with the best parts of ourselves, not the weakest. We can make a promise to be truth-tellers. When our actions generate from this center, we often discover a teacher or mentor arrives to help us grow in ways we may currently name and desire, or perhaps only intuit. When we wake up, tell the truth, and are faithful to our spiritual practice, unforeseen possibility and potential shows up!

Mentors and spiritual guides assist us along the way, until one day, our fidelity to a spiritual practice and listening deeply creates an awareness that that we have become the mentors, examples, and witnesses to a life of authentic engagement and flow, where the breeze at dawn or dusk whispers secrets to our awakened life.

Stop everything you are doing, be still. Ask yourself, and then ponder:

  • Who are my mentors?
  • How am I a mentor or witness to others?
  • What is it I truly desire in my life?
  • Dare I believe in possibility?
  • Am I ready to sort things in—and out—to create the time and space for my deepest calling, and heart desires?
  • How might a spiritual director or guide accompany me in my journey?

–Pegge Erkeneff

Excerpted from Listen: A Seekers Guide to Spiritual Direction, July 2012, vol. 6.3, published by Spiritual Directors International,


Need To Make a Decision? Sort Marbles.

Some days, sorting marbles sheds light on essential questions.

Smooth handfuls of glass slipped firmly against each other in my hands. Water streamed from the kitchen faucet. I washed and rinsed my favorite colors in a stainless steel strainer, playing with texture and light. The marbles had been supporting stalks of lucky bamboo in clear glass vases.  Except the lucky bamboo suddenly turned yellow, rotted, and died. Some luck! Wonder what the message is there. The florist at Safeway said, “simply a bad batch.”

Sorting marbles on a Saturday afternoon was a mundane activity for my cranky mood. I got to thinking–first, it feels good to accomplish something, even as simple as Ziploc baggies of matched marbles. [Can you hear me laugh at myself? This sounds slightly absurd–even to me!]

However, in this uncomplicated action, I realize I was also sorting bigger questions: What work calls me? Where is my best yes? My no? Where do I sparkle, come most fully alive?

I think about words Charles Halpern wrote in Making Waves and Riding the Currents:

I thought about the transparent river, flowing under the crystalline ice, which had given me so clear a view of the life of the river–the weeds bobbing in the currents, the fish swimming indolently upstream, the air bubbles sliding downstream, pressed against the ice. All of this was invisible when the surface of the water was ruffled by gusts of wind. I wanted to cultivate that clarity of vision, and to bring that sense of wonder to my work and to my life. I wanted to be able to touch back continually into such deep engagement with things as they are, and build my understanding and actions on that foundation, without distortion or distracting abstractions.”

The silent, simple act of sorting marbles helps me sort life questions, see beneath the surface, and clear my distortions and distractions.

I’m curious, what activity provides you an opportunity for introspection and reflection? How do you make time to slow down and see beneath the surface of things?

I welcome your reply–please write in the box below.

The line between good and evil is in …

Today sent me “The Gulag Archipelago” by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He’s the man who wrote,

“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.”

I believe this is true. Nearly twenty years ago I first pondered Solzhenitsyn’s insight. Again and again I need to revisit how I live, what I believe, how I speak.

The instigation for reading “The Gulag Archipelago” comes from the recent shooting in Arizona. I am aware that this is a lie: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Words–and names–do hurt, or heal. Words console, uplift, and inspire. Words instigate condemnation, contempt,  and violence. Physical violence always begins with words, first. So I ask:

  • What words do you choose to use?
  • How do your actions amplify your thoughts?
  • You are powerful–how can your personal power be life-giving?
  • Where is the line between good and evil drawn in your heart?

These are questions worth pondering. Please join me in asking them. Seek healing and wholeness, dignity and integrity. Right now, today.

Please offer a prayer for all victims of violence in our world–and all perpetrators. “May there be peace on earth, and may it begin with me.”