If you had a glimpse of my interior world in college (and high school, and junior high, and grade school), you’d discover I was a pretty wound-up perfectionist constantly worrying and straining to make things right. If there’s a word to describe the image I hold of my young self in all those days, it would be the word scruples.
But then God cracked me open, and a whole bunch of messiness ensued.
Confusion. Exploration. Possibility. Hope. Life. Grace. Love. Freedom. Depth. Calm. Solidity. Openness.
The spiral of life and growth continues along these lines, with each new season bringing its portion of disorientation, exploration, discovery, and life. It leads to increased rootedness but usually requires a bit of freefall first.
When I look back over the terrain of my spiritual journey and who I’ve become and am continuing to become, I’m incredibly thankful for the many wise influences, mentors, guides, and spiritual parents who have shaped me.
When it comes to influences, I am thankful for:
- Clifford Williams, whose book Singleness of Heart began me on my heart journey
- Anne Lamott, who first taught me about grace and the beauty of imperfection
- Don Miller, who put language to some of my experiences and modeled permission to explore
- St. John of the Cross, who first taught me about spiritual formation
- My friend Sara, who gave me space to process the journey
- Jesus, the first model for all I believe and do today
- Henri Nouwen, who opened deeper the world of interiorities and helped clarify my sense of vocation
- Mother Teresa, whose model of love still teaches me
- Gandhi, who was and always will be the father of my nonviolence journey
- Martin Luther King Jr., another father to me in the road marked by love and conviction
- Thomas Merton, my spiritual father in contemplation and peace
- Julian of Norwich, who currently models for me my life of prayer
Who are the influences that have shaped your life, and how would you express thanks for them?