Jill Beathard

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August 7, 2012
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'An acceptable place for people to ponder'

If you pop into the middle of one of Clarita Wooldridge's spiritual direction classes, you will see a lot going on.

On Aug. 1, for example, Wooldridge was taking turns reading passages from the Bible as well as from an inspirational book of letters by well-known women. Meanwhile, her students were cutting out scraps from magazines and gluing them to cardboard circles to make mandalas, and soft music was playing in the background.

Her class, "Come and See," incorporates many elements - including art, music, reading and prayer - to help students recognize God in their lives, according to Wooldridge. Wooldridge, a part-time Snowmass Village resident, is leading the class for five weeks while she is in town.

Although Wooldridge is a Christian and studied at San Francisco Theological Seminary, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, elements of her class are influenced by other faiths. For example, mandalas are traditionally associated with Buddhism or Hinduism. At her last class on Aug. 1, she also spoke about the significance of mountains in different spiritualities and how her students could apply that to the mountains here.

"The only caveat is I'm not familiar with other traditions," Wooldridge said. "We talk about Jesus, but it's not heavy in that area."

Each class begins with the lighting of a candle and a prayer. Wooldridge provides some direction on a creative activity, leads a reading and then lets her students work and talk.

"It unconsciously moves to community, as well," Wooldridge said. "It's looking and honoring God as source of creation and source of creativity."

In addition to the group, Wooldridge also gives individual spiritual direction. She said individual spiritual direction involves mostly listening on her part. She might read a passage from the Bible or something else to start the session, but the directees do most of the talking.

"Spiritual direction is a ministry of holy listening and hospitality," Wooldridge said. "It's not a diagnosis; it's not a curing. It's an accepting place for people to ponder what's going on in their life."

Wooldridge said students can drop in on the group spiritual direction or join the class every week. The class began July 25 and goes on for five weeks.

Wooldridge also will be leading worship at the Snowmass Chapel on Aug. 19.


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The Aspen Times Updated Aug 7, 2012 07:28PM Published Aug 7, 2012 07:22PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.