Rooted in God

While I was growing up in a small town in Southwest Minnesota, my most trusted confidant was… a tree. There must have been something about this young tree that drew me in. I remember a few notches at eye level that reminded me of eyes and a mouth, but, above all, I remember I was compelled to spend time with this tree and share the contents of my heart. I like to think I also listened to the tree, but I was a kid. I probably did all the talking.

This Lenten season the congregation I serve will be guided by the theme “Rooted in God.” Using the analogy of trees we will be invited to loosen the “soil” of our hearts, listen to the wind of the Spirit, take in the Living Water of Christ, and absorb the Light of the World – all in the context of community, like trees thriving in a forest.

In that spirit, my own rootedness in God began in that small town in Minnesota and was deepened slowly as I matured, yet I felt a sense that something was missing. Fortunately, in 2001 a friend suggested I look into the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation and from there my rootedness in God deepened exponentially through the Group Leaders Program (now known as Transforming Community). During the first residency Tilden Edwards, Gerald May, Rose Mary Dougherty (among others) introduced me to contemplative prayer, spiritual direction, contemplative leadership, and above all, a deeper love of God, neighbor, and self. My life and spiritual lens have not been the same since.

For over 20 years that rootedness took shape within congregations I have served through each small group that gathered around contemplative prayer, each council meeting that began by listening for God, and a myriad of discernment conversations that explored the practice of listening for God over our own ego needs. After all the challenges in ministry and life these past 22 years, I’m not sure I would still be a pastor without the invitation to go deeper with God and other seekers. Every day I draw upon the waters of listening for God in a complex world.

My husband Peter also serves as a pastor, and was drawn into his own contemplative expansion through the Going Deeper: Clergy Life & Leadership program. In Peter’s words, “the program affirmed and deepened what I had been tending in prayer. The great gift of Shalem was to gather with other clergy who shared the same challenges and hopes for their lives and the congregations they served. A contemplative life and the possibility of contemplative congregations are part of what it means to listen for God at this time.”

Together, Peter and I have been invited to lead the next Going Deeper cohort, with the program’s first in-person residency since before the pandemic, at Bon Secours in August. Ministry has always experienced challenges, yet I think we can agree that the past 3 years have brought exceptional challenges in ministry throughout a time of pandemic, seismic shifts in the Church, and needed awakenings in our culture. Like a strong wind that causes the roots of trees to strengthen and go deeper, this challenging time is also a time of invitation to open ourselves to deepening, together.

If you are a member of the clergy in need of this spiritual deepening, here are some questions for your consideration: What has “rooted” you these past few years? What has watered your soul? How has the wind of the Spirit blown in your life? For what does your soul long these days? How can Shalem’s Going Deeper program support you and your ministry?

This Lent, may we be “rooted in God.” May we loosen the “soil” of our hearts, listen to the wind of the Spirit, take in the Living Water of Christ, and absorb the Light of the World.

February 02, 2023 by Kathie Nycklemoe 1 Comment
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Linda Wieser, OSF
Linda Wieser, OSF
1 year ago

Is there a way you can get this message to Kathie Nyckomole. I used to know Kathie early in her ministry before she started Shalem. I too am a graduate of Shalem and I am delighted to see what Kathie and Peter have done in their ministry and personal life reflected in “going deeper.” The questions Kathie puts forth for us to ponder draws me into the mystery of God and our spiritual journeys.


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