Getting Ordained (Part One)

Barbara holds a croissant ripped in half. The lake is in the background, with rolling waves.
Barbara is standing in front of the lake, about to take a step. She is smiling widely, looking up past the camera.

This week I celebrated communion, sitting by the edge of Lake Ontario with a soft croissant I bought for a dollar and a thermos full of hot chamomile tea. It was just me and God, an unrelenting summer wind, and waves as far as I could see. 

It was simple and sacred, ordinary and life altering. That’s what spiritual practice is all about for me - a constant reminding of ourselves that God is in the everyday. In our hunger, in water, in the squawking seagulls, the air, the quiet moments when we get still enough to remember that everything is sacred. 

This is the kind of ministry I long to have in the world - a ministry of remembering. A ministry of helping all of us reconnect with ourselves, each other and God so that together we can remember that the sacred is always right here… as close as our own breath. 

In a couple of weeks, I am going to be ordained as a non-denominational minister with a small local organization. The slow and tenuous journey back to my pastoral calling has felt in moments almost unbearable. My nervous system and my brain have flashed warning signals more times than I can count, threatening danger and re-traumatization. I’ve had to work diligently to keep myself calm, to stay rooted in the truth of my life today, and to let an immense well of gratitude, love and inner knowing be what moves me.

Here are some of the truths that anchor me:

I am surrounded by a community of people who know me and love me. We are not always alike, but in sharing our hearts, our vulnerabilities, our food, our homes, our struggles, our joys and our prayers we are brought into communion. In this sharing I see God, and I know I belong and am loved. 

My relationship with the sacred is more nuanced, attuned and riveting than it has ever been. My life with God has deepened, developed greater texture and mystery and flourished into a solid, steady faith my younger self couldn’t have imagined. I see how much bigger the sacred is than any one faith or tradition. I am profoundly grateful for this deepening of my life within God most of all.

I am loved, and I am love. To surrender to this truth is to walk resolutely into the direction of my calling to ministry. Talking about spirituality and holding space for all of us to reconnect with the sacred within us and all around us brings me more joy than I can articulate. I get to devote myself to my own wild, ridiculous joy. It is my birthright. 

I trust that nothing that comes from deep within us can lead us astray. This applies to my longing to be with people in a spiritual context. I can ground myself in this when I am afraid or uncertain. It is precisely because I do not precisely know what the next chapter will look like that I know I am following where spirit is calling step by step. 


After over a year of deep discernment, classes, pilot sacred services, sessions with shamans, intuitives & tarot readers, meetings with priests and pastors, travelling workshops, one on one work, retreats, circles, books and therapy, I am here recommitting my life to following the leading of my soul.

As I wrote in my ordination letter, “To feel myself engage in my life’s work is indescribable. It is the presence of Spirit rushing up into my body, through my heart and out of my mouth. It is God, gathered in a room of once upon strangers, making the sacred known one breath at a time.”

In some ways, living out this calling is the simplest thing I can imagine. In other ways, surrendering to my joy fully expressed has been one of the most complex journeys of my life. 

We are here to co-create with Spirit, to make manifest God, to be the holy and the sacred. 

I believe that we are the holy and the sacred even when we forget. 

I am learning to remember.

xo,

Barbara

Toward Embodiment

 
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This summer I had the magnificent privilege of spending five weeks in nature, split between my dear friend Rosemary’s cottage on a secluded island and pup sitting in my much beloved Prince Edward County. 

Wanting to ease myself into silence, the first four weeks were spent having visits with friends and chosen family, hosting a Be With retreat and enjoying vacation time with Tanya. I felt filled with company, food, beach and laughter.

But by the end of those weeks, I was craving silence and deep solitude. The universe of course conspired with me. As Tanya drove off to Toronto for the week, my phone stopped being able to take or make calls.

I’d arrived.

Only weeks out from my ordination, I was going to spend a week alone, working on my book about desire and Spirit, living in a renovated church, reading and re-reading a book by an evangelical that spoke to my core despite every misgiving & resistance I had picking it up.

None of the magic in this set-up is lost on me. I was perfectly supported on every level to sit with the one question I’d been moving towards steadily for the last year and a half:

How do I embody all of who I am when trauma makes it feel impossible to do so?

I’ve been pretty public about feeling called to return to my pastoral calling - made podcasts, announced my officiating services, and wrote posts ad nauseam. But I didn’t believe it in my own heart. In the privacy of my own being, I didn’t trust my right to reclaim the work I had felt made for.

Simply, this sucked. It kept me feeling locked in place, stuck between a life that no longer felt like me but unable to move into self-expression. I would come to learn that it was the result of being mired in a toxic mix of trauma, shame, fear and resentment. 

Owning who I am and living into full embodiment has been at the heart of my personal growth for the last year. This has meant tackling shame, deepening my understanding and practice of healing trauma, expanding my capacity for vulnerability, transforming how I relate to my body, growing my skills in being able to have hard conversations and withstand conflict in my closest relationships, and challenging myself to move into greater interdependence, uncertainty and spiritual surrender.

This work, my own and the work of many who love me, has been integral to my increasing self-expression and greater embodiment.

This is the work I will be exploring in this new season of Be With as I begin to share my writing and relaunch 1-1 and group coaching.

I will be doing this primarily through telling my own story, as well as through teaching and sharing resources along the way. 

Not because I have the answer for you. That answer lives inside of you.

But because I’ve been living into the answer in my own life, and I know there is nothing like watching someone else’s story that makes space for our own.

As you read my journal, something inside of you may say, “Yes, this is what we’re longing for. Listen.” When that happens, I invite you to drop into your heart, and ask what your deep, wise self longs to communicate to you - without judgment, or needing to jump to action, without pity or fear. Instead with curiosity, and openness, and if you can a willingness to consider that just listening is the work right now.

Coaching:

Many of you have let me know your excitement that I am going to be coaching again. This thrills me! I live this work every single day and love to support others in it. 

I’m going to begin with one on one work, and have space for four folks who are ready to work intimately and deeply. My one on one support is for those who have already done a lot of their own work with a therapist or in communities of care, and who long for a sturdy relationship container to bravely ask “How can I allow more of myself to come forward?” and  m o v e patiently, consistently in the direction of their own answer. 

One on one coaching is a significant financial and emotional investment on your end, and a significant energetic and emotional investment on mine. I recognize that this makes it financially inaccessible to most, especially folks of colour, queer and trans folks, disabled and mad folks, and others experiencing the brunt of oppression today. This is shameful, enraging and real. Since the start I’ve prioritized making my work financially accessible and am currently exploring what that will look like in this new season of my life.

I ask for your patience with me as I first secure a liveable wage, launch The Gathering, and concurrently explore what would be the most accessible and sustainable way for me to offer coaching supports to more people. Sliding scale group coaching is part of the picture - the how and anything else are still in process.

In the mean time, Toronto local folks will soon be able to attend The Gathering, a monthly sacred service for queer and trans folks and our allies starting in Oct, as well as our weekly community potluck meal - all at no cost or by self-guided donation/tithe. Though this offering will not include formal coaching, I will be available for pastoral care to all who take part in the community. My plan is to begin fundraising for this work as well soon.

If however one on one work is in your budget, and it is something you want to explore, I would love to start a conversation. I’ll be doing connection calls all month long - slow, delicious, no-expectation first dates for you and I to see if we have the magic that can hold you as you venture into the unknown. You can book a call here or check out my pricing here.

Thank you for reading, and for joining me on this journey. It is my deep honour to serve you with my truth. 

Joyous full moon.

xoxo

B.