I am a spiritual director, bodywork therapist, and artist. I have always paid attention to details and relationships. So growing up as non-native among Amish and Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania, I was sensitive to my family’s status as "outsiders." This childhood experience kindled my empathy for the other and those on the margins. I believe that when we pay attention to relationships, we see the inextricable connection between all living beings. No one of us is ever truly the other but at some point we have all had the experience of feeling like the other. Recognizing this frames my passionate belief that harming one of us harms us all and that inclusion of others is our natural calling. All are invited and welcome to both my practice of spiritual direction and my practice of bodywork therapy.
I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Georgia and later, motivated by a curiosity about integrative health, studied massage and bodywork therapy at the Baltimore School of Massage. Through my arts studies, I began to understand that the act of creating and the energy of human creativity are a holistic experience of body/spirit/mind. As I came to understand processes of healing in my training for bodywork therapy, I made the connection between my holistic perception of creativity and the "biological" reality of our inherent orientation toward healing: this capacity to heal is in itself an expression of creativity. All of us are energized by the capacity to create. Creating is never separated from Spirit and connects us to the creative "order" seen throughout nature, our world, and in one another. In my practice of spiritual direction, I seek to reconnect people with their own inherently wise and healing creativity.
The greatest reward of working as a massage and bodywork therapist is the daily encounter with diverse aspects of human nature: vulnerability, frailty, fear, and joy. Through the first decade of my work I recognized a growing sense that these aspects were inseparable from our healing, creativity, and spirituality. It seemed they were part of one greater “something.” Perhaps it was a connection to our life Source or life energy? Eastern philospophies call this “chi” or “Qi,” but I wondered what language is used within the Abrahamic faiths? Searching for a conversation that bridged medicine and theology, I entered the Master of Arts in Christian Studies (MACS) program at Duke Divinity School, where I explored the intersection of spirituality, theology, creativity, and health. This study challenged me to read ancient texts from all faith traditions through a discerning lens, to see the historical contexts of geography, culture, and social paradigms. Their stories reveal the same individual and communal struggles people of past civilizations encountered as we experience today.
Stepping back from my personal interpretations, questioning what may seem obvious, enables me to be more present and to hear more deeply the important “stories” people bring to a session of spiritual direction.
Sallie is based in Durham, North Carolina. Follow her on Facebook at Sallie Gentry Spiritual Direction.