The following reflection is part of the final integration project of a recent SGTI graduate. We found it deeply meaningful and hope you will enjoy it!
As a fiber artist and new graduate of SGTI, I have found that spiritual guidance is continually weaving itself into my life. My interest in fiber arts is centered around understanding how different materials can be manipulated to construct various objects. Projects begin with a focus on choosing materials based on weight, texture, color, and other features so that as they are manipulated they create items that are beneficial and beautiful. It is interesting to view spiritual guidance through my fiber arts lens.
Creating yarn on a spinning wheel produces single-plies of yarn that can be difficult to use by themselves so single-ply yarns are generally combined with one or more other plies. This process allows the combined plies to twist back onto and lock into themselves forming a much stronger yarn. The SGTI curriculum, the readings, videos, and audio segments ply together in a way that strengthens and reinforces each individual part. Like yarn that twists and locks creating firm foundations, we have a solid place from which to continue to learn and grow.
The Japanese art of kumihimo, begins with different threads that are braided together to form a cord or braid. Sometimes my vision doesn’t always turn out the way I thought it might, and I find myself unraveling and trying again. Reworking something (although it takes longer) always results in the creation of something better. Small groups and VRI’s allowed us to braid people with different life experiences into something cohesive. Occasionally I experienced the need to unravel and try again, but like kumihimo, things always came together and created something stronger and more beautiful. Cords of kumihimo have been found that are centuries old, may this sacred work last as long.
The 3-dimensional qualities of basket making piques my interest in construction and turned me into a basket maker. I am intrigued by baskets because they are used to contain things. They create or delineate spaces – just as we attempt to do for our seekers. Seekers need safe spaces and we have been finding ways to create them. Gratefully our seekers stepped into our containers knowing we were students and trusted us and the spaces we were creating.
My love of fiber has its roots in the potholder looms of my childhood and although my current loom is much larger, it remains all about warp and weft. The warp on a loom are the long threads that are held under tension and the weft is drawn through, over and under the warp. The warp must be in place for weaving to happen and needs to be strong and accommodating of the weft. Jeanette and Jan, our supervisors, our year-long mentors, and our own spiritual guides provided the warp for our individual wefts, allowing us to create whole cloth.
Although our time together as a cohort is drawing to a close, I will be forever grateful and I’m leaving sharing my delight in knitting for another time. I must say however, that it is through knitting that our hearts come together in love.
~ Lisa Ray Janes
Guest post. Words and image by SGTI alumnus Christine Hiester
“If your everyday practice is to open to all your emotions, to all the people you meet,
to all the situations you encounter, without closing down, trusting that you can do that–– then that will take you as far as you can go. And then you will understand all the teachings that anyone has ever taught.”
What if this practice of opening– this discomfort, this deep presence with exactly what is in each sacred moment (and they are all sacred) – is the only work?
What if understanding “all the teachings that anyone has ever taught” can be summed up in the everyday encounters with our inner responses to the mysteries, struggles, frustrations, and quiet joys experienced in the midst of this very human life?
What if trusting the moment-by-moment unfolding within us is the path that will also take us outward, to the edges of the cosmos, and the great insights of existence?
Or maybe these questions are too lofty. Maybe they remove us from our lives and place us in an ideal that is all too easy to ponder rather than live out. Maybe with feet on the ground, in the messy reality of life, we instead ask these questions:
Whom will we meet today?
What interruptions will derail our plans?
What conflicts will arise at work, or at home, that will push every button we have?
What physical pain will distract us as we go about the tasks of our day?
What if stubbing a toe, getting cut off on the highway, receiving a phone call with bad news, or being caught in a downpour which makes us late to an important meeting are each divine opportunities to open, open, open our hearts fully to the journey that will make us whole?
What would it feel like to resist the closing, and instead open to everything– everything! – with soft heart and deep breath?
How are you living into your holy “What ifs?” today? How can you invite others to do the same?
Christine Hiester is an interspiritual spiritual companion, retreat facilitator, artist, and musician. She finds her home in spacious places where contemplative and creative practice meet deep connection in community. You can find her on her website www.shapingtheriver.com and on Instagram at @shapingtheriver
In the next few weeks, a new feature will appear on the SGTI website. We are excited about spotlighting our current students and alumni and have plans to do both beginning in February. We feel that our new features, "Student Spotlight" and "Alumni Spotlight," will help you get to know the Institute better, especially when it comes to the kinds of students we attract, why they take SGTI's unique training, and how they hope to serve others once their training is complete.
In the meantime, one of our current students, Matthew Whitney, has been featured as a guest on the Spiritual Directors International podcast, "SDI Encounters." Matt is usually the host of this wonderful series, but this time the tables were turned and he is interviewed about his life as a contemplative artist and a student of spiritual companionship. We hope you will take a listen!
Visit this main page for SDI podcasts:
then look for Matt's podcast:
"Art, Creativity, and Spiritual Companionship"
You can also listen here:
On Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/show/2ufeZhwf9z6WuBi5pZEeNn
On Apple Podcasts https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/sdi-encounters/id1451231142?mt=2
On Stitcher - https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/sdi-encounters
About this blog
Deepening the understanding, practice and importance of spiritual guidance-companionship across traditions.
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