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By Dell Todd

Dell Todd completed this spring the three-year spiritual formation program at the Dominican Center to become a certified Spiritual Director.  Read on to see how the process impacted his life, his love of God, and where he finds inspiration as he writes with God in his newfound love of poetry.

“I am grateful for this formation process and the people who facilitated it at the Dominican Center which has completely changed how I see myself, God, and all humanity. It’s a challenge to think of the person I was before the first Foundations class. My transformation is so stunning to me that I am not always sure which contributed more: the scholastic learning or the Spirit-led experience and gifts of the Spirit. My prior life experiences brought me to this threshold. The Spirit invited me to step through the door where all kinds of new life awaited me and continues to unfold before me.

As Practicum (Spiritual Director Practicums) unfolded, my spiritual giant, Father Thomas Keating provided me with direction in the truest sense in ways that continue. When I first read Open Mind, Open Heart, I connected to the concept of centering prayer with enthusiasm and vigor. As I read the pages which introduced the mechanics of this simple practice, I was most eager to simply begin, so I did! This practice changed my life. Was it the practice of centering prayer and its transformative effects upon my heart, mind, and body? Or was it Father Keating’s ongoing presence in my life, in the background, keeping watch? Was it God’s own divine hand at work in my life or has it been all the above?

Amidst our questions, our looking for God, our divisiveness and conflicts, the spiritual answer is to be with God. This was the answer for Keating, for me, and is for anyone in any situation. Once we strip away all trivia, dogma, complexity, and personal wounds and get down to the heart of the matter, we need to simply, completely and fully be with God.

In the true spirit of Saint Dominic, my prayer is that God will continue to show me where God needs me to serve with God’s grace to carry out God’s mission for my life. Practicum’s parting gift for me was the following poem.

To be present with myself
To be present with God
To be present with another child of God
To be present with eternity
To bear witness
          for the decline of the church
          for her refresh
          for God’s people who are searching but not finding God there
          with those who also have knowings, curiosity, and questions

Who have yet to learn to relinquish their demand for answers
Yet to learn that we need only to be with God
Whole heartedly
Spend time listening to God
Be in silent conversation with God
In relationship with God
Who will transform us
And share God’s deep peace and wisdom
Strip away the heavy dogma
Our personal wounds
And welcome the ever-accessible God
Into our hearts
Be present in holy silence
Be present with the host of heaven
Be present with all the saints

Dell Todd