Serving a New Spiritual Awakening
“Is it possible, I asked myself, that I’m being summoned from some deep and holy place within? Am I being asked to enter a new passage in the spiritual life –– the journey from false self to true self? Am I being asked to dismantle old masks and patterns and unfold a deeper more authentic self –– the one God created me to be.” –– Sue Monk Kidd
Within Christianity, an historic shift is occurring. Religious scholar Diana Butler Bass documents this shift in her book, Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening. She charts a movement away from institutional religion, with its creeds, doctrines and hierarchies, toward more personal spiritual journeys of those seeking to live their faith more deeply and their lives more fully.
In response to this shift, many churches are attempting to be a synthesis of both, says the Rev. Canon Manoj Mathew Zacharia, sub-dean of Cincinnati’s Christ Church Cathedral. One example of this effort can be found at the cathedral’s newly launched Cathedral Center for Spirituality, which offers spiritual direction now and will be adding educational programs and retreats to its roster of services later this year.
“The Cathedral Center for Spirituality was developed to promote spiritual wholeness within oneself so that the ‘self’ is holistically present to others and the world at large,” says Sub-Dean Zacharia, who spearheaded the formation of the new center. “It is a place where mindfulness, centeredness, and holistic living are promoted and taught.”
While serving as a fundamental resource to members of the cathedral congregation and people from other area churches, it is also designed to serve the business community surrounding the cathedral.
The cathedral is ideally located to serve the downtown community in this capacity.
“It is indeed a ministry to the city,” says Sub-Dean Zacharia.
“The Center for Spirituality is an additional avenue by which the cathedral can offer something that will be of value to the business community,” says the Rev. Joyce Keeshin, an Episcopal priest who works as one of the center’s spiritual directors. “For individuals running as fast as they can, it can be a port in a storm, where they can stop and have a conversation about something else.”
Some of the center’s education programs may include lunchtime offerings that promote spiritual well-being, such as yoga, centering prayer, and similar types of mindfulness classes. Retreats will be designed to engage participants in a contemplative spiritual journey centered on wholeness.
“We are so busy and inundated these days. This center is a space outside of that busyness, a place where we can reconnect with ourselves and with God and find quiet.This is a place where we can have a conversation about what we are most longing for in our lives, what our souls are longing for. It’s a space to be authentic. It’s a place to listen to our souls.”
Essentially, the Cathedral Center for Spiritualty is an invitation to anyone who wishes to take steps toward wholeness.
“It is so easy to keep doing, doing, doing, and never stop to listen, listen to the presence of the Spirit in our lives,” says the Rev. Keeshin. “We need to find moments to slow down to connect with what is most true and discern what is most needed in our lives.”
Q&A on Spiritual Direction
What is spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is a contemplative process of listening and exploring the movement of the Spirit in one’s life, as guided by a spiritual director. Spiritual directors are trained in the practice of deep listening, of encouraging reflection, and of sharing what is observed, sensed, and known.
Spiritual direction is found in many faith traditions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. Some practices of spiritual direction are more structured and aligned to specific religious disciplines, while others are more contemplative and inclusive. The Cathedral Center for Spirituality fits more into the latter category.
When is spiritual direction considered most helpful?
Spiritual direction can be meaningful at any stage of one’s faith journey, as it deepens our awareness of and relationship with the Divine. It helps us attend to the sacred questions within. Those times when you may most benefit from spiritual direction include:
- When you long for a deeper relationship with God and a deeper awareness of the presence of the Spirit in your daily life.
- When you seek to discern the next steps you may take during a period of transition or when feeling adrift.
- When you are feeling the need for a deeper understanding and reconciliation in your life during period of grief, loss, or difficulty.
- When you want to explore spiritual disciplines new to you, such as alternative forms of prayer, meditation, journaling, and other spirit-deepening practices.
How often does one meet with a spiritual director?
The spiritual direction relationship develops over time and is deepened by the process of listening together. Initially, spiritual direction sessions may be scheduled on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. As a shared understanding develops, sessions may then occur only once a month, as the two parties agree. A session usually lasts one hour.
Who provides spiritual direction at the Cathedral Center for Spirituality?
Deacon Douglas Argue, the Rev. Joyce Keeshin, and Ms. Liz Tassone, with support from cathedral clergy, currently provide spiritual direction at the cathedral.
For more information about the Cathedral Center for Spirituality, contact Sub-Dean Manoj Mathew Zacharia, 513.842.2054. To schedule a conversation on spiritual direction, contact one of the center’s directors as listed below.
Spiritual Directors at the Cathedral Center for Spirituality
Since 2005, Douglas Argue has served as the managing director for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. In this role, his main responsibilities include advocating and providing technical assistance for safe, decent, and affordable housing for low-income and special needs populations across the state of Ohio.
Deacon Argue was ordained to the diaconate in 2008 and is convenor of deacons for the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio. Along with providing spiritual direction through the Cathedral Center for Spirituality, he serves the congregation of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Westerville, Ohio, as deacon.
Deacon Argue earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana. He holds a Master of Social Work degree from Indiana University and is a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) in the state of Ohio.
While the spiritual journey takes many forms and has many paths, Deacon Argue feels particularly called to explore the areas of men’s spirituality, sexual minority spirituality, discernment for the ministry, and the mystical traditions. He finds meditation on images and icons serves as a doorway to the Divine.
He lives in Columbus with his husband and their two four-legged children.
Contact: Deacon Douglas Argue.
Joyce Keeshin is an Episcopal priest and spiritual director. Her first experience of spiritual direction was over 30 years ago when a priest invited her to explore a closer relationship with God. Spiritual direction became a pathway in transforming her life’s journey.
Her life journey has included an extensive career at Procter & Gamble in marketing, employee wellness, and diversity. She went onto serve two Cincinnati area Episcopal Churches—first as a deacon and later a priest resident at St. James Church in Westwood and now as assisting priest at Church of the Redeemer in Hyde Park.
The Rev. Keeshin has an inclusive and contemplative approach to spiritual direction with training from the Sycamore Spirituality Center. She has journeyed on pilgrimages to many lands, and has immersed herself in the mystery and beauty of Celtic and Native American spirituality, meditation as well as other spiritual traditions and practices. She has a Master of Divinity degree from Bexley Hall and Master of Arts degree in pastoral counseling from the Athenaeum of Ohio.
Contact: The Rev. Joyce Keeshin, 513.260,7473.
Liz Tassone is a spiritual director and retreat leader in Cincinnati. She trained at the Sycamore Spirituality Center, which teaches an interfaith and contemplative form of spiritual direction. She has been part of a teaching team at the Sycamore Spirituality Center, and she mentors students in this practice.
Ms. Tassone received her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and gerontology from Ohio’s Miami University, and has worked with older adults for more than four decades. In addition, she also produced and hosted the Family Caregiver Hour, a local radio program, for eight years.
Ms. Tassone volunteers at the Wesley Chapel Mission Center and at Saint Francis Seraph School, where she enjoys working with the children—both the center and the school are in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati. In addition, she also teaches mindfulness and compassion to adult students who are being trained by Mercy Neighborhood Ministries to work as home health aides.
Ms. Tassone delights in seeing the Divine in everyday life.
Contact: Liz Tassone.
Barbara Lyghtel Rohrer