Encountering Silence

Encountering Silence

Therese Taylor-Stinson: Silence, Contemplation, and Justice (Part One)

April 17, 2019

Therese Taylor-Stinson is the co-editor of Embodied Spirits: Stories of Spiritual Directors of Color, and the editor of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around — Stories of Contemplation and Justice. She is an ordained deacon and elder in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), a lay pastoral caregiver, and a graduate of and an associate faculty member of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, where she previously served as a member of the board.

She is the founder of the Spiritual Directors of Color Network, an international, ecumenical/interfaith association of persons of color with a ministry of spiritual accompaniment. A native of Washington DC, she now lives in Maryland. Her ministry, like her books, explores the intersection of contemplative spirituality and the ongoing struggle for social justice and the dismantling of racism.
I've always loved nature, I love trees... I love the ocean, I love the sunrise and the moonrise... those kinds of things bring me into silence in a kind of pondering and sitting with what we call 'God', but to me is more 'Mystery'." — Therese Taylor-Stinson
In this first part of a two-part episode, Therese shares with us her early experience of contemplative silence, formed by her education in Catholic schools as well as her early encounters with the silence of nature. She goes on to show how her journey as a contemplative and a spiritual director has impacted her experience as a woman of color. Of particular interest is her insights into the contemplative dimension of the civil rights movement, particularly in terms of the under-appreciated contribution of Howard Thurman.

"For some people of color, silence is uncomfortable — it feels oppressive or imposing,  it makes them go places or feel things they're not ready for, or that they aren't ready to express to me. We have to be really careful with silence... I don't know that silence is a requirement to find that still place within." — Therese Taylor-Stinson
In the second half of today's episode, Therese offers insight into the contribution of people of color, not only to contemplative spirituality, but to Christianity as a whole — and how those contributions have been erased from history through the dynamics of racism — leading to a "silencing" toxic in its nature.

This is part one of a two-part interview; to hear the second part of this conversation, click here.

To learn more about the Spiritual Directors of Color Network, visit www.sdcnetwork.org.

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Therese Taylor-Stinson (ed.), Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around — Stories of Contemplation and Justice (includes essays by Jacqueline Smith-Crooks, Lerita Coleman Brown, Maisie Sparks, Jung Eun Sophia Park, Soyinka Rahim, and Ineda P. Adesanya, among others)
Therese Taylor-Stinson et al. (editors), Embodied Spirits: Stories of Spiritual Directors of Color
Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited
Lerita Coleman Brown, When the Heart Speaks, Listen: Discovering Inner Wisdom
Maisie Sparks, Holy Shakespeare!
Jung Eun Sophia Park, Border-Crossing Spirituality: Transformation in the Borderland 
Soyinka Rahim, Bibo Love
Ineda P. Adesanya, Kaleidoscope: Broadening the Palette in the Art of Spiritual Direction
Martin Laird, An Ocean of Light: Contemplation, Transformation and Liberation
Anonymous, The Cloud of Unknowing
Barbara A. Holmes, Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church
Desert Fathers and Mothers, Early Christian Wisdom Sayings
Tilden Edwards, Living in the Presence
Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel
John Main, Door to Silence: An Anthology for Meditation
Gay L. Byron,