Letting Grow interviews, season 1
conversations with interesting people living through life's transitions
Laurel Sprengelmeyer part 1, leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses
In this first interview episode, Claire talks with Laurel Sprengelmeyer, musician and visual artist (aka Little Scream), about her journey from a childhood in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Laurel shares what she got from that tradition, her growing discomfort with it in high school and college, and how difficult it was to leave.
Laurel Sprengelmeyer part 2, finding a new identity in the arts and Buddhism
In this second interview episode, Claire talks with Laurel Sprengelmeyer, musician and visual artist (aka Little Scream), about her journey from a childhood in the Jehovah’s Witnesses to her life now as an artist and Tibetan Buddhist. Laurel shares the process of exploring the arts and other interests she’d neglected growing up and her eventual connection with a very different spiritual tradition.
Matt McKibben on letting go in Star Wars
In this episode, Matt McKibben (my favorite Star Wars expert) takes us on a deep dive into the Star Wars universe and the way characters let go – or don’t – and the impact that has on their development. Whether you love the Force already or not, we can all relate to some of the points Matt makes: that there’s letting go of our intellect and relaxing into intuition, and there’s letting go of previous identities; that we can choose to “fill our cups” with love or with fear; and that mythology can help us live richer lives.
Lauren Santerre's transition from career to motherhood
Lauren Santerre, spiritual director and modern mystic, talks about her transition from a great, high-profile job she loved in her 20s to motherhood and suburban life in her 30s. It’s an authentic look at the costs – and gains – that come with a spirit-led professional rebirth. We’ll talk about loneliness and isolation, getting centered again in the present moment, and the spiritual dimension of motherhood, whether in the literal sense of birthing a human or in the metaphorical sense of nurturing ourselves and others
Lauren Santerre on resurrection in Christianity
Welcome to week two of my conversation with Lauren Santerre, spiritual director, Christian mystic, and my friend from our time doing interfaith work in Houston. Last week she talked about all the “deaths” that led up to her experience of motherhood, like leaving a wonderful job at Interfaith Ministries and moving to the suburbs, and this week we’re talking about Christian approaches to the life-death-and resurrection cycle.s
For folks like me who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian sect and then left, Lauren’s take on the idea that Jesus’ death atones for our sins (known as atonement theology) will be refreshing. She’s not a fan of that interpretation and prefers what’s called restorative theology: the idea that Jesus’ life offers us a profound template for our own lives. You can find some great links below to articles by Richard Rohr and others if you’d like to read more.
Lauren Santerre on motherhood and the divine
In this short bonus episode, Lauren Santerre (spiritual director and Christian mystic) shares her experience of rebirth or resurrection into the role of motherhood and how that’s transformed the way she thinks about God. I found the conversation deeply healing, especially the parts about the divine and gender. My favorite Lauren quote from this episode is: “If you think you can’t be loved by God, you are deeply, deeply wrong.” You can also find a longer conversation with Lauren about a Christian take on death and rebirth today in the Letting Grow feed.
Gena Davis on spiritual rebirth and YogaMass
Welcome to Claire’s conversation with Gena Davis, Episcopal priest, spiritual midwife, and founder of YogaMass. Gena has really brought the contemplative practices of yoga into the Christian spiritual world. In this episode we talk about her rebirth from a priest serving a congregation in Houston to becoming the founder of YogaMass, a worship service and nonprofit that offers Christians an embodied practice to experience spirit and Christ consciousness within themselves.
Dr. Simon Cox on the Buddhist subtle body
I’m so pleased to bring you this conversation on the Buddhist subtle body with my friend and colleague Simon Cox. I met Simon when he joined Rice’s Department of Religion PhD program, and then I got to know him when he took two semesters of my introduction to Tibetan language and culture class at Rice. Simon wrote his dissertation about the subtle body, so he’s the perfect person to give us a deeper dive on that topic. Read more about Simon and his kung fu training (and see awesome photos of him in China!) at https://www.okanaganvalleywudang.com.
Simon on his lifelong quest to understand the subtle body
Dr. Simon Cox talked with us on Dec. 23 about Buddhist views of the subtle body, and today he’s sharing his life journey with us, from his time watching cartoons in Houston, TX (including a Batman cartoon that started him on his lifelong quest to understand the subtle body) to his time training in kung fu and Taoist contemplative practices at Wudang mountain to Rice’s Department of Religion, where he recently defended his dissertation on the subtle body.
Simon on the Taoist subtle body
Welcome back for this third episode with Dr. Simon Cox, my friend and colleague from the PhD program at Rice University’s Department of Religion and co-founder of the Okanagan Valley Wudang kung fu school. He’s back today to tell us all about the Taoist subtle body. (If you missed Simon’s two previous appearances, he also talked with us about the Buddhist subtle body and his experiences as a kid from Houston, Texas, exploring Asia in search of esoteric lore.)
This time we’re talking about Taoist teachings on the subtle body and descriptions of the death process, and along the way we’ll touch on – among other things – the way Taoism was nearly wiped out in China’s Cultural Revolution, similarities between Tibetan and Chinese descriptions of shooting your consciousness from the crown of the head at the time of death, and Simon’s recommendations for folks who want to meditate in his tradition.
Caren Prentice on the magic of in-between states
I’m so delighted to share my conversation with Caren Prentice on the magic of in-between spaces with you today. Caren is a meditation teacher, and she shares her own experience of an in-between time when she’d started a spiritual practice and was beginning to see the toll her anger was taking on her relationships, but she didn’t yet know how to relate differently with situations that made her angry. She was able to stay quiet instead of lashing out in anger, and eventually, in that quiet space that replaced her angry response, her own inner wisdom began to show up and guide her to a new way of responding.
Jogen Salzberg on "dying" to life as a monk
In today’s episode you’ll meet Jogen Salzberg, a dharma teacher in the Zen tradition who recently left his identity as a Soto Zen monk to start a new chapter in his life as a lay teacher. We’ll talk about the joys and challenges of monastic life, why he left, and what it’s like to explore a new identity after being defined by one role for years.
Shannon Marie on Crystal Wisdom
In today’s episode, I’m delighted to bring you Shannon Marie, author of the new book Crystal Wisdom and a friend of mine from the Dawn Mountain sangha, one of the places Shannon deepened her contemplative practice. We’ll talk about her rebirth from a corporate worker – good at her job but with so much more to offer the world – to author and spiritual guide. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from our conversation: “You know when you’ve encountered something that is healthy for your soul.”
Crystal Wisdom brings Shannon’s lifelong fascination with healing crystals and gemstones together with her contemplative wisdom in Reiki, meditation, and yoga, and it’s a great read for anyone curious about including crystals in their meditation practice.