I first became intentional about my spiritual journey in 2005. I was studying art at Southern Oregon University and preparing to graduate. I had a number of different motivations for studying art and being an artist, but one was the desire to be successful. I believed that if I became successful as an artist it would give me a sense of identity and purpose in life. Regardless of what people do in life I think this desire for success is common among all people. We look to what we do to provide us with a sense of identity, purpose and belonging. What happened for me was that when I began school as a freshman nobody on campus knew me or cared about the art I was making, but by the time I was a senior I had reached a significant level of success as an art student. I was receiving praise and encouragement from my professors and classmates, recognition in the local art community, and I was expected to have a fine career as an artist. Things were going very well for me, but I recognized that the happiness I was experiencing was precarious. It was dependent on many things that were beyond my control, mainly other people’s thoughts and opinions. And when I was alone I recognized that I felt the same as I always had. What was happening around me did not have the power to satisfy the deeper questions of identity and purpose that I was asking. If I continued on this path of seeking success I might have achieved greater levels of success, but the power over my well-being and happiness would always be in the hands of other people and the circumstances in which I found myself. This feeling grew in me that the idea of success was an illusion and ultimately a dead end, so I needed to find a different way to live. A way in which I could be at peace and happy regardless of any external circumstances. Meditation was a response to this feeling. I found it to be a way to set aside all the impermanent, contingent and illusory ways that I was seeking for happiness and instead to discover my truest self before I did anything, before I had anything, and before anyone said anything about me. To find my center within myself and learn to rest there, instead of grasping for things outside of myself.
At that time, I did not consider myself to be a religious or spiritual person, but the questions I was asking were spiritual questions and they started me on a path that has continued until now. After graduating in 2005 I moved to Salem and decided to focus my energy on becoming a wiser, more peaceful, and more compassionate person. I found a spiritual director and meditation teacher who I studied meditation with and he has been a mentor to me for many years. I embraced my religious heritage and joined the First United Methodist Church in Salem, which I have been a member of since 2007. In 2012 I decided to go to graduate school and study theology. I attended Marylhurst University in Portland and received a Master’s degree in Applied Pastoral Theology. I also completed a spiritual direction certification program through the Urban Spirituality Center in Portland in 2016. I am a member of Spiritual Directors International and I abide by their code of ethics.
I have been a frequent guest preacher at Salem Mennonite Church, I have led classes on mindfulness meditation for the Willamette Education Service District and The First United Methodist Church, and I have been co-facilitating a Christian meditation group at First United Methodist Church for over 10 years.