Monday, April 14, 2008

Sacred Compass Blogger Contest -- First Interviews

The blogger contest for Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment is off and running. The first three to post their interviews are C. Wess Daniels at Gathering in Light, Liz Wine at Lovin' Life Liz, and Shawna Roberts at Mystics, Poets, Fools. I hope you'll give them a visit.

Another person had interview questions but doesn't blog any longer. So I asked her if it would okay to post her questions and my answers on my blog. She said okay, First, though a little background. The interviewer is Jo Morgan of Joywise Heart-to-Heart. Jo lives in Madison, WI and she and her husband and I all went to high school together. Jo and I met in art class at Columbus, Ohio West High School -- under the tutelage of Mr. Robert McLinn. So we're long-time friends, even though Jo looks as even better as she did in high school (as does her husband Rick) and I look ... well, you know how I look. So here goes.

What drew you to this particular topic? Were there specific experiences?
The idea of knowing God’s will for my life, to use the language we used when I was growing up, has always been important to me. From high school days onward I’d buy and/or read books on spiritual discernment. Most of them, while helpful in some ways, were more of the 1-2-3 steps to God’s plan for your life. My life never quite seemed to fit into that 1-2-3 pattern – especially when it came to the challenging times of life or the times when I thought I’d followed God’s direction and seemed to end up in the wrong place. So I began questioning and learning and realized that life is a pilgrimage to God and that all of our experiences are used by God to make us the people we are – and that is good. So I wanted to share those thoughts with others – especially other “strivers” like me who want to do good, seem to often fail, and then beat ourselves up about missing some direction.

How do you personally receive or discern Divine Direction?
There are lots of ways I sense Divine Direction at work in my life. Most are in what Quakers call nudgings – a gentle nudge in the soul to do something worthy. It can be something simple – helping someone whose groceries have tumbled out of his torn grocery sack – or something large – to go work with AIDs orphans in Africa. We all get these nudgings – the important thing is learning to pay attention to them. There are other ways, too, reading wise books, listening to wise people, paying attention in love to the world around me, and much more.

Can you describe a time when the direction was almost as clear as your GPS directions?
One of the clearest times of direction was the time Nancy and I stood in the checkout line at the local grocery store, our cart well loaded. Our three sons lived at home at the time and so food disappeared quickly. Standing in front of us was a member of our Friends meeting, who also had three sons. Her cart held a few essentials. A single mother, she was between jobs and doing her best to get by. I felt a prompting inside me. By almost any standards, you are rich, the voice said. What should you do? Then I remembered Jesus’ words, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” I looked at Nancy, she nodded, and I tapped our friend on the shoulder. “Nancy and I would like to buy your groceries, if you’ll allow us,” I said so only she could hear. A look of relief filled her eyes and she nodded yes. As we three left the grocery, she said “Thanks. I have a lead on a job and this will really help tide us over until it comes through.” That was the last thing ever said about this incident between us. That, for me, was a time when Divine direction was a clear as GPS.

What do you believe prevents us from "discerning" God's guidance more easily?
Oh, I think all sorts of things get in our way – our busy-ness, our rushing around, the buzz in our minds of thoughts coming and going and going and coming. Probably the biggest obstacle to discernment is the noise of living, especially when we fail to recognize how it is distracting us from the needs of our souls. When we take time to nurture our spirits, we find discernment much easier.

What recommendations do you give the reader for tapping in more directly to God's Positioning System?
God’s Positioning System! I love that. Well, to tap in more directly, if we’re going to think of GPS, we have to first turn it on, then we have to consult it. GPS doesn’t do any good if it’s just in the car or on our cellphone. It has to be turned on and ready to go – and we have to use it. So, ways of turning it on, I think, include taking time for nurturing the spirit – prayer, quietness, reading, music, art, walking. These things vary person to person. Then ask – “Am I hearing/sensing correctly? Is this the way to go?” And trust the answers your soul receives – especially when the answers lead toward things that bring life and love and light.

Thanks, Jo, for sending in the questions! And for those of you who are bloggers, it's not too late to do the virtual interview.



Brent Bill said...

Robin Mohr, of the convergent Friends movement, has posted part of her interview -- read it at

Brent Bill said...

Liz Opp has posted her entry -- check it out at

Liz Opp said...

Thanks for the link, Brent. I can tell it isn't set up as a working link though, so if you or your readers want to view my interview with you, they can click here.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up