All posts by: Jay Swanson

I write on the 5th Sunday of Easter. That time between Easter resurrection and Pentecost. The scripture I reflected on today was John 15: 1-8, the tending of the vineyard. These past weeks I have had occasion to traverse the wine country of California. The workers were in the vineyards pruning the vines of old......
  • Blog Post - Valley Spiritual Direction - Snail
I read a line that caught my attention recently. "Life contains small moments of opportunity to practice being like Jesus." I have found the practice of Spiritual Direction helps me become aware and explore those moments in a day that have a particular hold on me. It could be small slight (or a big one), a poorly chosen word spoken to a coworker, an action I'm not particularly proud of, or any number of other openings. Openings are those moments that God allows us to dwell on......
I’ve been traveling a fair bit lately. I’ve stood in line watching the “best” people load the plane first. You know the ones, maybe you are one. The 1K traveler, Global Trekker, Medallion, Gold, Platinum, Executive Member, all walking on the red carpet until the rest of us are called to board. Imagine my surprise when my zone, zone one, was called and I too was able to be counted among the “best” and walk on the coveted red carpet toward the plane....
I was reviewing my journal from 14 months ago when Carol and I were in Nairobi. I remember this man as if it were yesterday. The reflection seemed important then. It still does. Maybe it will resonate with you as well. Jay — I met Job the other day. No I really did. A man......
A newly minted young pastor was in conversation with his supervisor. This supervisor said John, remember, “Transformation does not take place in experience, transformation takes place in reflection on experience.” St. Ignatius said the same thing in the Prayer of Examine. Sadly, many in our culture find themselves going through entire days without even the slightest bit of reflection....
  • Valley Spiritual Direction - spiritual director - spiritual disciplines
I was coming to the end of my current journal, realizing I need to begin a new one. In the back of my journals I have a collection of papers that contain poems, prayers, readings, and inspirations that I refer to from time to time. I consider them some of my most cherished companions on the journey. While deciding which pages to keep and which to file away, those I would file felt like losing a friend. This activity caused me to think about who or what companions me on the journey to likeness in Christ. Remembering is another way to think of this process......
Recently I went to the market to purchase a few things for the evening. In the parking lot I was asked by a homeless person for some money, he needed some food apparently. Now usually I have a rule that I give something when asked. It is just a small practice in my life. However this time for, some reason, I didn't like the look and feel of this person. My words were "no, I’m going to pass tonight," and walked off into the store. Focused on my own task I was hurried and I missed an opportunity to practice compassion. I've been thinking and praying a lot about developing compassion in my life. Apparently it hasn't yet translated into practice....
The news these days is filled with more violence than I can manage. I feel my heart constricting as I am exposed to daily onslaught of violence and mayhem. It occurs to me that the temptation in the garden to be “like God” by obtaining all knowledge is exactly what is happening today. In the garden, and in God’s kingdom, humans were never designed to hold vast amounts of knowledge, pain and suffering, violence and mayhem. Only God can handle this amount of suffering and so, there in the garden, rightly connected to God, we were allowed to grow and expand under his care and custody, never exposed to that which would destroy us....
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