As one of seven children in an Armenian family, my life in a small town in upstate New York was busy, often chaotic. To find myself in the midst of the chaos I would spend time outside or buried in a book. And so I developed a special affinity for Nature and a love of learning. I attended church with my mother, but only sporadically, most often for Christmas and Easter services. One could say I grew up largely “un-churched.” Yet I loved the rituals of those special services, the candles, the music, the chance to be still, to be quiet, alone with myself and with Spirit.
When my son turned five and began to ask questions about God, we began attending the local Unitarian Universalist congregation. It offered a mix of personal spiritual growth, social justice opportunities and a place to belong. In time I held many roles in that community: worship leader, president of the Board of Trustees, ministerial search committee member, and soprano in the choir. Eventually I became the congregation’s first paid Director of Religious Education, a creative, fulfilling, and in some ways, challenging, job I held for six years. At its peak, the program included infants to seniors in high school, and some 35-40 families participated.
I entered Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry in answer to a “call” to go deeper with my exploration about religion. I wanted to explore the possibility of becoming a minister. I devoured the courses offered on spirituality, Christianity, Judaism, pastoral care, ethics, history, theology and the Bible as I simultaneously studied and deepened my understanding of Unitarian Universalism, a progressive faith tradition. It was a rich, six-year journey to the completion of my Master of Divinity degree.
During my second year I interned as a chaplain to incarcerated youth in the King County Detention Center. I learned to listen without judgment to the life stories the youth shared. The stories were heartbreaking, sometimes humorous, always transformative. I am a volunteer chaplain today, six years later, having been “hooked” by these wonderful youth I have the privilege to serve. I am providing a special kind of spiritual direction to them. As in all journeys of spiritual direction, they have gifted me as much or more than I have offered them. I know I have found my “call.”
Today, I have expanded my call to be a Spiritual Director serving adults in my home office on Bainbridge Island, WA. While spiritual direction with youth is unique, it holds many universals that I bring to my current practice. We all need someone to listen to our story. My direct experience has taught me that a divine light resides within each of us and this light can grow and glow with love and justice in our world. My hope is to be present to you and nurture your light in ways that help you shine.
Member, Spiritual Directors International, since 2009.