John 11:32b-35: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping,
he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept.

I am a new associate of the Spiritual Guidance Program (SGP), class of 2024, completing the first at-home phase and first residency. Recently I traveled for my first mini-retreat, a perfect balance of fellowship, rest, silence, and pool time. Little did I know that this was the Divinely ordained calm before the storm.

Returning home, my calm unraveled due to painful national and statewide judicial and legislative decisions. These decisions effectively walked back social justice gains over the past few decades. The Supreme Court — located 2.3 miles from Shalem — struck down race-conscious affirmative action. My state legislature, 25 miles from home, gutted diversity education and gender-affirming care for transgender minors. The decisions of both bodies sent shockwaves throughout the country and the state. Usually, my innate social justice response is to mobilize around young adult communities most negatively impacted. However, in addition to this, a new aftershock emerged for me.

Hidden beneath my river of agitation and activism was my groundwater. It was murky with grueling exhaustion and grief. My thoughts turned to my future directees and their experiences. How might Shalem’s SGP program prepare me to sit with them and myself in a sacred space? How will I be steadied and readied for the call to companion with those holding intersecting identities of activism and faith? Or identities of Thurman’s disinheritance and faith? A disconcerting mystery.

With guidance from my director, I was invited first into my own experience. I wept. My tears created room for the Holy Spirit to move. Beyond the weeping, my heart was opening. Suddenly an image of a puzzle appeared in my “mind’s eye.” Working puzzles is a favorite pastime. But I resisted the image when I first saw it. Then I remembered an early SGP reading on the practice of Visio Divina. Spirit wanted me there, with the image, softly holding my gaze. There was something God wanted me to see.

Ahh, this is the puzzle that minoritized communities are given to put together. As I continued to look, I saw that as a member of intersecting minoritized communities, we have inherited a 1000-piece puzzle to assemble. Communities of power hold the box top with the completed picture. They have the majority of the pieces needed to assemble the whole. My box comes with 150 random pieces. I also saw my ancestors calling me to assist others with this incomplete puzzle and its impact on their lived experiences. For every judicial and legislative setback, puzzle pieces are swept off the table, crashing to the floor.

As the image slowly receded, I learned more about the calling on my SGP training.
There will need to be an exploration of how these setbacks impact my communities’ relational connection or disconnection from the Divine. Where may we weep, moan and rest safely? What is Spirit guiding us to do and not do? As an emerging companion, who are some of my cultural contemplative ancestors, and elders, and what are some practices that lead minoritized contemplatives into wholeness? I look toward these explorations.

Thus, before I become too overwhelmed with all there is to explore, I will again return to my heart and remember the wisdom from my meeting with my spiritual director. Gently she offered, “Know that when you weep and see visions, you are not alone. God, Jesus, and the Spirit weep and see alongside you.”


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In 2025, Shalem will be a dynamic and inclusive community, empowered by the Spirit, where seekers engage in transformation of themselves, their communities, and the world through spiritual growth, deep connection, and courageous action.