Conversation with Bridget Sperduto, Executive Director of The Well Spirituality Center in La Grange Park, Illinois
The Well Spirituality Center is committed to exploring all creation’s oneness with God through reflective experiences, education, conversation, the arts, prayer, and ritual. The guide and context for understanding the inherent wholeness of the Earth and our unity with all creation is the ever-unfolding Story of the Universe, as rooted in God’s primary revelation. Exploring the Story helps deepen an understanding of ourselves, an experience of belonging, and an appreciation of our role in creating a culture of love, hope, and healing. The Well is a sponsored ministry of the Congregation of St. Joseph.
Many people come to The Well to deepen their spirituality, fall more deeply into God, and to find community. Most come initially in response to a program or a speaker of interest. Some come for spiritual direction, grief counseling, or relief of suffering. But regardless of the immediate issue or need, I think everyone is looking to find a sense of belonging; that is, a deeper belonging to God and one another. What they find is home. Home in themselves, God, creation and one another. People who regularly visit The Well wake up to the Sacred immanent in all of creation.
Many are not sure where they fit in the world and they want to find a home – and they want to care for one another and receive care as well. When a bad thing happens, to an individual or to someone they love, or tragedy strikes people in the world, there can be a deep, painful hurt: How could this happen? Did God let this happen? What we teach is to pay attention to what the universe is telling us, that cataclysmic events – those very events that we avoid because we feel like helpless victims – are essential for new growth. In these times of crisis or turmoil, we are being called to go forward, to transcend, to go higher in the understanding of our unity with each other and all creation. God is not someone who lets something bad happen, but is a Companion to each one of us in our journey forward to a higher consciousness of who we are.
This scientific story of creation is the story of evolution and we participate in it, we have a necessary role in it. For billions of years, creation has been transforming and transcending- moving toward greater wholeness – more life. The beauty is that this newness, this creative response comes forth from the Wisdom of God within each and every being. The Well’s programs serve to facilitate touching or glimpsing this great wisdom.
As time and space unfold we witness increased complexity, diversity and union. Our role in this movement of and toward greater wholeness is to recognize that every living thing is a unique manifestation of the Divine and a part of the whole. At this time in humanity’s development we believe we are being called to evolve beyond division, beyond right vs. wrong, feminine vs. masculine, we vs. they, beyond hierarchy of any kind – into an acceptance of a whole-archy. It is our hope that when we can see this wholeness in each individual – in the hungry child, the Muslim, the refugee, the person holding a gun – we will weave a fabric of love so dense and strong and whole that hate cannot find a way in.
What helps me respond to the call to move forward and expand, especially when I feel constricted or limited, is the spiritual practice of contemplation and meditation. I am really drawn to this great desire by the Creator to expand into freedom to be in unity with the Story of the Universe. So I will work with various modalities (meditation, reiki, art, nature, spiritual direction, therapy) to move into a sense of expansion. When I feel that moment of freedom, there is no tension, no limit, no restriction, and it feels like lightness and oneness…I am in the flow of the Universe- the flow of God- and I know I am right where I am supposed to be.
“…and a little child shall lead them”
One of the programs we offer children is a Stories of Oneness Project. School-aged children and teachers from across social, racial, religious, and economic boundaries are brought together for the purpose of fostering communion with God, one another and all creation. One day the children were asked, “How is God dreaming in you?” Adrienne, a young deaf girl who has no speech facility at all, wrote, “God is dreaming in me to tell all people to be friends.” So wonderful – no limitation there!
As part of this retreat, we asked the parents of a young American Diplomat who was killed in Afghanistan to come share the story of their daughter as a young girl – what did she dream about? Her parents said that she had always dreamed of being a diplomat, to work in foreign countries for her country. And she achieved her dream.
At this point, the mom began to cry. And the children were not sure what to do. But Adrienne did – she stood up and went to the mother and hugged her. Then every child followed Adrienne and got up to hug the family. No words were necessary – everyone understood Adrienne. Love is healing. That day, Adrienne fulfilled what God was dreaming in her as she taught us all how to be friends!
The ministry of the Congregation of St. Joseph is to call all into union with God and with one another, as described in John 17:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…. I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.” (John 17:20-23)
Learn more about The Well Spirituality Center and their programs at www.csjthewell.org