at 17 – photo by sue beets bogan

James Finley, one of my dearest teachers says that most of us are depth deprived. We skitter around on the edges and surfaces of our lives, not making sense of anything, not able to reconcile our deep wounding with the sense that there is something so much more. It is my hope that together, we can feed your depths.

I grew up in Iowa in the middle of the last century. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been aware of dimensions beyond those which we normally perceive.

Once I learned how to write, I never stopped. I fell in love with singing and theater in my mid-teens, and painting in my twenties. High school also introduced me to social activism and the writings of several mystics. The dye was cast.

Drawn instinctively northward, I moved to Minnesota, first to attend college in St. Paul, then to live in the Boreal forest north of Lake Superior. There my sensibilities were honed by rugged beauty, but also the physical and emotional challenges of life in an extreme and isolated environment. I made myself useful by coaching speech and dramatics in the local high school, writing for the county newspaper, and doing anything I could for our cherished community theater.

In 1983, I was crippled by severe Seasonal Affective Disorder. Desperate for help beyond anti-depressants, and having very limited access to teachers, I began voraciously reading and experimenting, teaching myself how to create ceremony, enter trance, and call for guidance and healing.

That journey through brokenness opened a deep inquiry into my own nature and the unifying power of Spirit — accessed through the natural world, conversation, meditation, creative processes, and ceremony. Wanting to encourage such growth and discovery in others, I earned a masters degree in counseling.

photo by robb heckel
40-something – photo by robb heckel

I arrived in Colorado in 1992, and began to practice spirit-centered psychotherapy, all the while looking for teachers, healers, and colleagues. I went on a vision quest under the watchful care of Brooke Medicine Eagle (and later returned to the camp to facilitate others). I studied Healing Touch and trained in core shamanism. I participated in the first PeerSpirit circle practicums and became a teaching colleague of Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea, to carry the Circle Way into the future of human culture. I received help from many healers, shamans, and intuitive guides. (Thank you, thank you, thank you)! Even wrote a book.

Then another mysterious break, precipitated by a cluster of big disappointments. My heart was so shattered that, for a time, I felt draped in a heavy curtain, unable to access any voice or image. As I sat in utter silence, I learned to trust it.

I returned again and again to this emptiness, until one day — while singing outside — I felt the presence of one who would become my beloved primary guide, and the heavy curtain was gone. To my utter surprise, I was guided to go to work as a professional landscape gardener, which has been a beautiful way to make a living since 1999.

In 2015, a dear friend asked me to walk with her on her journey toward death, following fifteen years of living with cancer. What a profound honor, opening both of us to new realms of friendship, and ushering me into new depths of acceptance and adventure.  Among so many openings that year, I walked into The School of Peace and the Living School of Action and Contemplation, which have kindled yet more trust in the Mystery and given my path of service even greater joy.

Now, I am free to offer in abundance: skills, wisdom, and my love of holy conversation. I hope you consider this an open invitation to what I can only describe as a sacred “Yes!”

from jonny
In a beloved garden in 2017. Photo by John Grant.