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“Parenthood and Spirituality” with Lauren Burdette | Everyday Spirituality | connect.faith
This week on Everyday Spirituality, we are joined by Lauren Burdette, a spiritual director and the author of the book “This Life That is Ours: Motherhood as Spiritual Practice.”
During their conversation, Lauren shares her journey from industrial engineer to mother, to spiritual director, and ultimately to author–and how all four roles intertwine.
Find out more about Lauren on her website: https://laurenburdette.com
“They said… “But if you did have a big dream, what would it be?” I said, “It’d be to write a book.” …Two days later, maybe like that same week, I had a really clear dream. And I woke up and I just saw this tree of a book that was an exploration of motherhood as spiritual practice.” -Lauren Burdette
Debbie Bronkema: [00:00:00] Good morning. This is Everyday Spirituality with Debbie Bronkema. We’re here today with Lauren Burdette, and we’re really glad to be welcoming you. Lauren is a spiritual director and a writer. She’s published a book about motherhood as a spiritual practice and she’s also hosted a couple of seasons of a podcast about life as a spiritual practice.
I’m just really excited to have you with us because I feel like you’re just an amazing match for what we do with Everyday Spirituality. Let’s just start with, can you tell me a little bit about how you began to be a spiritual director? How did that become a call in your life?
Lauren Burdette: Sure, thank you for asking and thank you for having me.
I agree. I felt an instant connection with your work when we met and also even just that phrase “everyday spirituality” is “yes!” So I actually, I studied industrial engineering in college. I worked as a management consultant for several years [00:01:00] and operations manager. It was actually in the process of helping the organization that I was working for, listening for their vision and values that I started listening more closely to my own. And I felt this sense of misalignment. And I realized I want to write, I miss writing. I love to write, so the writing piece came first. At that time I was living in England with my husband and [have since] moved back to the States.
I was consulting again, freelance and, had our first child, and it was just a no-brainer that I was going to stay home. I wasn’t doing work that I was passionate about. I was traveling, I was working 80-hour weeks. There was just, there was no way. So I was home with Decklin – he’s my oldest – and I felt within me this deep sense of “and yet.” The sense of like, but motherhood is not the whole picture. And I was praying about, well, what would I like to do? And I realized I had a couple of friends who are spiritual directors and I was jealous of them. [00:02:00] And I thought that is so cool that they to hear people’s stories and they get paid for it.
Are you kidding me? Um, and I had named for myself a couple of years earlier that I had a ministry of presence and that was, that was before I knew what spiritual direction was before I’d heard of it. I just thought, “I have a ministry of presence.”
I’ve also called myself a foul-weather friend. I kind of rush into the hurting places and just sit and be. So when Decklin was three-months-old and I was praying with a sense of jealousy, I looked into training programs and there was a program, literally around the corner from my house, that was just perfect.
It was perfect. And I felt such a sense of… a deep sense of “yes.” A deep sense of having found the thing, as opposed to up to that point I’d always been doing things I could do, or things that challenged me,
but never the thing that was home.
Debbie Bronkema: That’s so great that you found it and heard it from other [00:03:00] people. And I love your description of a foul-weather friend. That’s really incredible. So then the whole idea of ‘motherhood as spiritual practice’
How did that come together for you?
Lauren Burdette: It’s an interesting story. So within my spiritual direction practice,
I’ve been very involved with Spiritual Directors International, and they have a program called
New Contemplatives, which is young spiritual directors that they bring together from around the world. And I had a very close group of friends from that, and we journeyed together. There’s an annual conference every year.
It was in Louisville. Because I live in Pittsburgh, not too far compared to Malaysia and Minnesota, Singapore,
people flew to Pittsburgh and we carpool together and we went to the conference and I had a newborn. I had my third baby. Healy was three months old and she came with us. And at the conference, [00:04:00] my friends are making these amazing deep, spiritual connections.
And I’m just sitting in the back of the room, breastfeeding, and rushing from thing to thing. And on the drive back, we have this eight hour drive and it was the most intense, beautiful group, spiritual direction session I’ve ever had where everyone’s unpacking what they heard from the conference. And what invitations they’re hearing.
And finally, we’re an hour from Pittsburgh. My friend turned to me and said, “Well, what about you, Lauren?” And I just started crying. And again, Debbie, I said, “I’m jealous.” “I’m jealous that you guys had these connections. I wish I’d had that, but my whole time was just shrouded in motherhood.”
Uh, you know, and they, they held that with me and then, you know, asked like, “Well, what would be your big dream?” I said, “I don’t know.” I just need oxygen. You know, I have, I’ve got three kids under five who I’m with all the time and squeezing in direction sessions. They said, “Okay, I hear that.” “But if you did have a big dream, what would it be?”
I said, “It’d be to write a book.” And as I said that, like, that was a dream I hadn’t [00:05:00] given voice to in years. I mean, probably 5, 6, 7 years at that point. And it surprised me to hear it come out. Two days later, maybe like that same week, I had a really clear dream. And I woke up and I just saw this tree of a book that was an exploration of motherhood as spiritual practice.
And it was so clear, and it was so exciting. And I hired a babysitter and just started to explore, like, where are the places that I feel the most life with my kids? Where are the places I feel the most frustrated? One of my favorite definitions of contemplation is “that which pierces the veil”
You know, anything that pierces the veil between us and the Holy is contemplation. And I was like, my kids are both: that which pierces, but they’re also the veil. They’re both. And they’re both – I’m moving my hand back and forth – within a five minute span, they shift back and forth 20 times. And how… how to be [00:06:00] with that. And I was just so intrigued with that question of how to really be with it. In a way that brought the practice of deep listening, um, into the constant nitty gritty. So it, it helped me, I wrote it for me. I wrote it to survive.
Debbie Bronkema: I love how your jealousy, which we tend to define as a negative emotion, for you it’s a place that opens you up to the next spiritual journey.
That’s really kind of awesome.
Lauren Burdette: Yeah it’s a real leading emotion.
Debbie Bronkema: Yeah. That’s really interesting. It tells you something that you didn’t know before. Yeah. Yeah. So then, you wrote it for you, and then you realized there’s a lot of other parents out there that might need to hear [this]. Is that how your journey went in terms of looking to publish it? And what was that journey like?
Lauren Burdette: I had, I had a very graced journey to publishing. As I was writing it, I was like, what am I doing? I’ve never written a [00:07:00] book! I don’t know at what point it is a book? Another spiritual director I had connected with had worked as an editor; she has since stopped this work, but at the time she had a work called ‘Bookwifery’ where she was helping to midwife authors and her name is Christianne Squires.
She’s amazing. I reached out to her and she helped me birth the book. Like she really, she walked me through the process, helped me see what it was wanting to be. And also helped me find a publisher; it was so good. I will say, anyone thinking about that journey, it was so good to have someone to walk through that process with, because it is such a shift. You know, the shift from the creative, turned inward nurturing process of writing to, “okay, now how do you sell it?”
And who’s your audience and who are you connected to? And what’s your book proposal? I mean, it’s, it’s totally different. It’s a totally different part of your brain and soul. [00:08:00] And it was good to not be alone. But yeah, so she helped me see that it wanted to be in the world and find its way out.
I’ll share, since you mentioned my podcast at the beginning, then the way that came about… It takes a long time for books to be published. So I sold the book and that was like another two years and I was a bit,
“What am I going to do my do with myself during this time?” And I realized that my curiosity was really leading me in the direction of how other people connect with God and where they find that sense of joy.
And I had thought about writing a book, I thought about doing interviews and writing a book, and several people said to me, “That sounds like a podcast.” And I thought, “Well, I guess I’ll try it?” And the publisher came back to me with the book title that they recommended:
“This Life That is Ours: Motherhood as Spiritual Practice”
I’m playing with this idea of a podcast that other people named, “Life As Spiritual Practice”
Motherhood had just opened up into that bigger picture. And that was another “Okay, [00:09:00] yes.” “Yeah, that, that we can do.” And that was a fun playground for two years. Of hearing people’s stories and getting to share them.
Debbie Bronkema: It sounds like that’s a big part of what fills you up spiritually is hearing people’s stories.
And so what is filling you up now?
Lauren Burdette: I feel like I’m starting to find the answer to that after two years of drought. When the pandemic hit – I mentioned I have three young kids – they were suddenly home and, I just had no spaciousness around my work again. And so I had to put the podcast on hold and I think it’s done. Although it’s still out there for people to listen to.
I put writing on hold. I was back to fitting directees in where I could in the midst of coordinating virtual learning. And it’s really only been in the last few months that I’ve realized I need to start finding [00:10:00] what fills my cup again. This is not sustainable. You can only be the foul-weather friend for so long.
I can only be the foul-weather parent for so long. Like that kind of implies that there’s a shift in the weather at some point. And what do you do if the weather never shifts, you know, then what? Is what I’ve been learning. So, what is filling me up right now is applying curiosity to my own story again and not just to others.
And looking at the roots of my family. I’ve been looking at my ancestral tree, my Celtic heritage, the myths and mythologies and stories that come out of that. The connection that I have to the land, both here and in Ireland, has been really, just feeding my imagination and my soul.
We planted a perennial wildflower garden over the pandemic. We have a tiny urban yard, but now we have flowers and we have a couple of trees and, and really I’m so excited that spring is coming and I’m getting my hands [00:11:00] in the dirt again.
Debbie Bronkema: That’s great. And what about writing? Does that fit into your life at this point?
Lauren Burdette: That is the piece that is like, kind of still waiting to fall into place. I have started writing again for the first time. And yeah, and I’m seeing a way forward, which is, which is very exciting. It’s not as clear as that tree and that’s okay. It’s light on the path. I would say that’s my work for this spring: figuring out a way to make time and space externally and also to find the courage internally again.
Debbie Bronkema: Beautiful. Thank you. Do you have other things you wanted to share with folks today?
Lauren Burdette: I genuinely believe that each of us have an amazing love story to tell with God with the Divine. And I believe it because I’ve seen it. It’s amazing. And it’s so good to have [00:12:00] companions to help tell and explore that story. I think especially now, I mean, that’s always true, but especially now when the old ways are breaking and there’s so much uncertainty and so much falling apart. And having, I don’t want to say hold your hand because we shouldn’t touch each other because COVID. But having somebody like alongside you is a lovely thing and I’m so grateful for those who companion me in my life. And I think that’s what I’d like to say is, yeah, I’m feeling a desire to plug spiritual direction.
If you don’t have a spiritual director, I encourage you to look for one. You can meet with them in person. You can meet with them on Zoom.
Please know that as I tell my story, if you are listening, I am also honoring your story. And I hope you are too.
Debbie Bronkema: Thank you. Thank you. So where can people find you or find out more about you?
Lauren Burdette: Thanks for asking. I have a website. It’s my name: LaurenBurdette.com [00:13:00]
And there’s information there about me, about spiritual direction, about the book and about the podcast. You can also find the book wherever books are sold. It’s called “This Life That is Ours: Motherhood as Spiritual Practice”
and then same thing with the podcast. You can find that wherever you listen to podcasts, you can find those back episodes. And I say they’re kind of great spiritual manna like they just, all of it. It’s all good food for your soul.
Great. Thank you so much. Thank you for being with us. It’s been wonderful to talk with you and hear your story.
And I think it does resonate. If you are someone who particularly knows someone else that needs to hear this story, please share it. And you can find this podcast wherever you find your podcasts. We’re in all the places. This has been Everyday Spirituality. Thanks for joining.