SPIRITUAL OFF-ROADING PROGRAM
Meet Your Facilitators
From Nun to Spiritual Off-Roader
It all started when I left the convent.
I had been the poster child of conservative Catholicism:
I served the poor -
prayed for hours a day -
and entered a religious community.
Friends knew me as the big-hearted, joyful servant who was going to change the world. I studied theology in English and Italian, I shared God’s love with strangers, and I led retreats and missions.
And then life crashed and burned.
After feeling off for months, my health failed. I was so weak I was flown home from Rome in a wheelchair. I proceeded to spend the next 18 months mostly bedridden.
Everything was taken away from me. No more joyful servant. No more mass or breviary or meditation to make me feel like I was good and holy. No more mission to go and change the world.
Instead, I was left grappling with the big questions:
Who is God?
Who am I, if not who I once was?
What is spirituality?
My ego fell, and it fell hard.
During those 18 months, as I was shuttled from doctor to doctor, the mystics became my lifeline. It's like they, and no one else, spoke my language and knew my experience. I also clung to the threads of sanity through the wisdom of my spiritual director, and some very dear friends. They saw me, and could be present to my pain without trying to fix me. I never again underestimated the power of this kind of presence.
As I spent hour after hour looking out my parents' big bay windows and gazed upon the purple Coteau Hills, my messiness began to unwind itself.
A deeper knowing, which some mystics call Unknowing, settled into my bones.
The big questions that once taunted me revealed themselves as allies and friends. They weren't matters to be settled, but mysteries to be lived.
Far from the nicely ordered orthodoxy of my early life, I found myself in a wilderness of exquisite Beauty.
Instead of being fenced in by fear and shame and restrictive guilt, this wilderness was marked by its SPACIOUSNESS... and even a sacred mischief. ;)
DO YOU HEAR THIS WILDERNESS BECKONING?
After this whole experience, I decided to dedicate my life to this path.
There is so much FREEDOM out here! And the BLISS of divine intimacy...
I want you to know this too.
Come join us.
Come find the UNION your heart so longs for.
Come live the questions that have no clear answers, but are rich with meaning.
Come connect with other kindred spirits who see you, understand you, and want to journey with you. You don't have to do this alone.
From Backwoods Brat to a Japanese Monastery
“Well, it looks like you’re going to have to grow up and be a man now,” Norm Smith said to me with tears in his eyes.
I never thought I would see such a hardass as Norm cry, but apparently standing next to his best friend’s - my grandpa’s - casket was enough to do the trick. I wanted to kick him and kick him hard for saying that, but I knew he was right.
That’s what we were taught to do - man up, get over it, move on.
Nobody would be there to clean up after me when I got in trouble, so manning up at 12 years old was the only option in small-town America.
Little did I know that it would take me another 25 years before I would even have the slightest clue about what this phrase meant. I found pretty much every way not to be a man - or a humane human being, for that matter - but becoming a man was nothing like what I thought it was.
My journey to become a huMAN took me from my village of 87 people to Japan at age 17 where I studied mindfulness at a Buddhist temple. Seeds were planted that took time to bloom and be fully embraced. But the wisdom would eventually be intertwined with the great mystery whose glimpses were revealed by the mystics of many faith traditions.
At some point, the angst became unbearable.
My True Self was beating against my chest to be acknowledged and my life wanted to be lived fully and genuinely. All of the incongruence and cognitive dissonance of an ego that was trying to be who I thought the world wanted me to be so that I would be deemed worthy of love and attention finally became more than worth the game.
So, I committed to coupling the actual practice of doing, being, and living into all that the mystics and wisdom teachers had bestowed to me. And so the real journey began.
With a healthy dose of vulnerability, I stared my monsters in the face, acknowledged the ego who had served a purpose once upon a time to protect a scared boy whose father had abandoned him at age five and whose mother was often physically present, but emotionally unavailable, and told that ego to sit down and shut up. My True Self was finally going to get a say in how things unfold.
This vulnerability and intentional deep dive on an inner journey of self discovery, contemplation, and spiritual disciplines allowed me to say to myself as Mike McHargue so eloquently puts it, “You’re beautiful and a pain in the ass.” I owned my rough edges and the pain I had caused others in my pursuit of manliness while embracing the beauty and goodness of the real me.
The journey never ends, but liberation is a delicious meal enjoyed daily.
It is my wish that all people, including YOU, would let go of illusions, attachments, and false narratives, and let your True Self shine like the immeasurable light that you are. It is for this reason that I trained to become a coach and spiritual director so that I could sherpa or shepherd others to the best and truest version of themselves. Won’t you take the journey with us?
From People-Pleaser to Self-Proclaimed Heretic
My name is Amy Piatt.
I’m an ordained minister, podcaster, mom, wife, and self-proclaimed heretic.
I spent the first 40(ish) years of my life on the inside of the church, playing mostly by the rules. Were it not for those pesky X chromosomes of mine, I’d probably have stayed safely within the bounds of the institution, but feminine subversion is in my DNA, so I eventually rejected the limitations and patriarchy and walked away… without telling my husband, without a plan for the future, and in the midst of a spiritual crisis.
It destroyed me. Really, it did. The compliant, accommodating, people pleaser was obliterated the day I walked away from church. The last few years have been spent finding my way through death and into new life.
But I’m learning that women have always been the bearers of new life.
...and in the Christian story, we’re the only ones who stuck around to witness Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. So I feel no need to reject my Christian heritage. But it’s time to tell the whole story, and flip the narrative to include the outcasts, the losers, the unwanted and the unseen.
Through contemplative prayer (aka meditation/silence), I’m discovering a way to release my tiny, fearful, false self and have stumbled upon the wide-open space of a much more beautiful life. It’s not my life, it’s our Life - the one that mystics and seekers have been sharing since breath entered our bodies and gave us a voice.
So, I breathe more deeply these days, and try to take in the pain and suffering around me. I hold it in love and allow the Love within to transform it in to something new. Then, I try to let it go - simple, but not easy - but I’m pretty sure it’s the start of something wild.
From Isolated and Hungry to Connected and Satiated
Is this your story?
Are you ready to find your tribe and explore this wide world of Mystery together?
In just a short time, the next cohort of the Spiritual Off-Roading program will begin.
For four full months, we'll journey together through juicy themes like divine intimacy, embodied spirituality (and sexuality!), finding wholeness, and wonder.
The cohort will meet monthly as a group, with your own private DEEP DIVES with one of our guides to ensure you get a swarthy, heaping serving of the depth you crave.
There's no need to feel alone in the wilderness.
There's no need for overwhelm or confusion.
Come join us, and find all the meaning, mischief, and mirth there is to be had.
Click below to dive in. We can't wait to see you there. :)