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Spiritual Meme Question Sixteen

16-- have you ever had a spiritual mentor? if so, what was the relationship like, and if you are no longer close or in contact, was there anything specific that caused the disconnect (aside from moving away from the religion/spiritual practice in general)?

Many systems that urge a spiritual quest also urge a teacher who will play an important, perhaps crucial role in that quest. In the Catholic Church this person is called a spiritual director and persons are trained to take on that role, they may be priests, monks,  nuns,  or lay men and women.  I am not a Christian  but i  recognize the  need for spiritual direction.  So far, i have not been able  to  choose a director.

But when i met Bob W. in 2002(?), and especially when he left me (physically and intellectually about five years later.  I realized that i had had a mentor of exceptional spiritual insight, wisdom, compssion and tolerance.  We talked more often as "Taoists" and "Buddhists" than we did as "Cnristians."

He was younger than i by a few years and had no formal education beyond high school and military intelligence training (including the  Korean language).  He spent his working career as a Ohio and Mississippi River barge worker and as a carpernter.  In  the later  capacity he  preferred to work for monasteries, building  coffins and doing carpentry chores for the nuns.  He was married and had three children. one of whom lives in Boise, which may have prompted his move to a "town" just across the State line in Eastern  Oregon.  He  and my brother Neal, who  also lived there became friends.  I met Bob when he was hospitalized at the VA hospital in  Boise.  He was already in stage IV Parkinson's Disease ("like the Pope") and about to begin his slide into Alzheimer's dementia.

We probably talked only five or six times in the next five years but each conversation lasted for hours.  He introduced me to Meister Eckhart and Neo=Platonic and Gnostic Christianity.  In turn i introduduced him to the Sufi poets.  He was a true "interspiritual" and he sharpened my growing appreciation for  the monotheistic religions and at the same time helped deepen my appreciation for Taoism.

If i had called him my mentor, he would have called me silly and said i didn't need one.  But i did and i think he played a necessary part on my spiritual journey (just as some of you  have done).   As he began  to fade away into Alzheimer's, he and his wife returned to his birthplace along the Ohio River where he could be closer to Gethsemane Abbey. a  place he loved more  than any other.  After a few years his body died; i think his spirit had always been free.
Writing prompts: only ones that would be hard for you to answer please! {FULL!} - the eclectic ecstasy of an ecphorizing eccentric


Feb. 24th, 2016 02:09 pm (UTC)
That is lovely. I too have rarely benefited from spiritual direction or mentorship. The two years in Al-Anon were the most significant mentorship, but it wasn't my sponsor at all, it was the group as a whole and its literature, too. Literature has continued to "mentor" me, as I think it has you. You three here on LJ are, I guess, in that role to some extent now. Abbot James promises to be a good one, though I definitely hope we will be able to meet more often than we have so far. Otherwise he'll never be able to keep up with the changes I've been going through.

Your Bob W. sounds like a true jewel, and I'm glad you got to spend those 5 years with him.

Feb. 24th, 2016 04:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
A thought provoking comment.

I don't want a director who echoes my prejudices,
or one who will hold me back,
or one who leads me where i'm not intended to go.

I need a wise friend who will converse with me,
prod me, and call my attention to things i might not have thought of on my own.

Bob did that; and you guys, collectively and individually, do that.



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