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When Your Practice Gives You a Shove

The invitation can upend your life in ways you never expected—and create great joy. How will you respond?

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Illustration of floating woman with flowers

Boundless Wonder by Duy Huynh

I’d come to this gala year after year: the annual awards dinner for local professional marketers like me. Same good friends and colleagues. Same banquet hall. Same stale jokes and cheese cubes and speeches and choice of prime rib or chicken.  This time, I had no idea why I was there. I’d just returned from three days at a local monastery, and the visit had given my whole normal life a giant shove. It left me sitting in that banquet hall and thinking: Why do we do this, any of it—the schmoozing and “networking” and grasping for more business? How have I ever justified selling things to people? Why do we give out awards, anyway? Who ever thought this was important? In the 10+ years since, the shove toward a different life has changed me. My thriving full-time business is no longer thriving or full-time. Instead I work part-time to pay the bills and spend half of each day writing articles like this. I’ve felt drawn into much more solitude, as much as a married person can have. I’ve written a book and become a spiritual director. None of this has generated commercial success. At the same …

John Backman is a spiritual director, contributor to Huffington Post Religion, and associate of an Episcopal monastery. He is the author of Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart (SkyLight Paths) and has presented at a range of conferences, including the Parliament of the World’s Religions.


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