I have over twenty-five years of conscious engagement in spiritual and religious community.
I attained my Masters of Divinity with honors from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2014. And after preaching, teaching, offering counsel to and learning from hundreds of people, I was ordained a minister in the Unitarian Universalist tradition in April of 2015.
I am also an initiated priestess in the tradition of Stone Circle Wicca, and began my Earth-centered studies in 1990. I have led rituals for thousands of people, in ceremonies as large as 400 in a Circle of Standing Stones under dozens of branching oaks, and as in rituals as small as a couple of folks in a living room.
Finally, I have offered spiritual direction—what I call spiritual accompaniment or sacred conversation—for over 15 years, and have been certified by the Urban Spirituality Center in Portland, OR. Over that 15 years, I have been with people as they encountered, explored, and shared their relationships with the Divine.
Life With Religious Institutions
I have happily experienced life with and within religious institutions, and I have also felt constrained by those same institutions. I know many of you share complex identities and relationships with religious institutions. I know many Christians who struggle with some of the theological and political positions their institutions take. I know that my own identity as a Unitarian Universalist has often been fraught with difficulty, as we struggle together to overcome marginalizing people–people of color, people with disabilities, fat people, trans* people. We’re working on it, but wow, are institutions slow to change!
Despite whatever constraints I have sometimes felt, religious institutions have brought my work to where it is today as The Way of the River.
I have learned many of my skills in institutional community.
- pastoral counseling
- worship leadership
- spiritual direction (or spiritual accompaniment)
I have acquired my Masters of Divinity from an institution, and it is in a beloved institutional, congregational community that I was ordained.
In addition to the traditions listed above, I have also been welcomed to shared spiritual life in Reform Jewish; Mainline, Quaker, and Pentecostal Christian; and African Diaspora communities. I also spent several years in discernment with the Roman Catholic religious order, the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Institutions Are Complicated
Nonetheless, I come back again and again to knowing that my heart, my soul, my spirit—heck my body!—are all too big to fit entirely into the standard shapes of most religious institutions. I am grateful for my religious experiences. And I know that there is more to the spiritual picture than any strict doctrine would have us believe. I am comforted by the knowledge that I am not alone in feeling this way. Mystics—saints and sages—throughout time have been part of religious institutions and yet have had experiences that don’t quite fit.
That is part of why I appreciate the First Source in Unitarian Universalism:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
And the second:
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
Traditions and history aside, my desire is to help more people experience the gifts I have seen emerge over and over again in those who seek intimacy with the One, the Source of Life and Love.
In our seeking for the One Who Is Many; Male, Female, Both, and Neither, many of us have gathered on Facebook, in The Way of the River Community Group. We share classes, discussions, article, queries, celebrations, and ritual time. Please consider joining us.
I also invite you to go to the link above, “Love Letters,” to subscribe to my weekly contemplation, Reflections. It is a spiritual boost and meditation on the season, the day, or something that I have been pondering in my heart to share with you.
This desire for depth, for wisdom, and for Divine Union is what moves me to be here with you. To be here. To be.
Blessings on you and on your house.