All content including photographs by Mary Linda McKinney unless otherwise noted. ©2018

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About Me

I was raised Midwest Baptist, left the church in my late teens (as soon as my parents allowed), spent about a decade agnostic and was leaning toward atheism when oatmeal cookie crumbs lead me to Quakers. It was in my second unprogrammed (silent) meeting for worship that I realized God had been with me all the time but I hadn't recognized it because the communication was in a different "language" than what I'd been taught to understand. Once I learned how to "hear", in spite of some miscommunication (and occasional willful stuffing-my-fingers-in-my-ears "lalala, I can't hear you"ing), over the ensuing decades I have become pretty fluent in the language God uses with me. I have been given the gift of the awareness of God's presence with me always. I'm a follower of Jesus because of the way he lived his life and  the intentionality of his relationship with his Abba. 


Recently, my Holy Mama has been encouraging me to worship with different folks so I can learn to become familiar with other spiritual dialects and languages. As I explore, I become more clear about what I understand about my relationship with God and I am more welcoming of the fact that she created each of us to have our own unique relationship with her.


Although I'm a pretty devout Liberal Friend, I'm not a very good Quaker in some ways. After practicing waiting worship for 20+ years, I joke that my main spiritual practice is still fidgeting. Stillness does not come naturally to me and sometimes silent worship is excruciating for my A.D.D. brain. Friends meeting is, though, where I've learned to, as 19th century Quaker Caroline Fox said, "Live up to the Light granted thee." I am awed in worship when I feel God gathering us together in loving unity. In my Friends meeting, I learned to recognize God through others, had my rough edges smoothed a bit, and it is where I have grown into my gifts for pastoral care and listening. And super importantly, my community discerns with me whether my leadings are true and if I am being faithful to them.

For many years, I worked as a professional interviewer doing sociological data collection for a university research company. Over that time, I interviewed thousands of people on many research projects. Conducting interviews, I've asked folks a wide range of questions from "What was your total household income last year, before taxes?" to "How often do you masturbate?" to "Have you ever had a religious or spiritual experience that changed your life?" I've talked with people from almost every walk of life, and listened, humbled and with a tremendous sense of gratitude, as they unfolded their lives before me. Fairly frequently, people would tell me that they had never told another soul what they had just said. I hold the stories shared with me as sacred. And let me tell you, at this point I'm pretty unshockable. 

In 2014 I received certificate of completion from the spiritual development program "On Being A Spiritual Nurturer" through the Quaker organization School of the Spirit. In 2018 I received a certificate of completion from the Religious Institute for the course "Sexuality Issues for Christian Religious Professionals",  successfully completed the Fielding Graduate University on-line course "Hosting World Cafe", and participated in an Art of Hosting training in Denver. I am certified as an Interfaith Spiritual Director through The Chaplaincy Institute. 

I meet monthly with my spiritual director and with another spiritual director/therapist. I also participate monthly in a peer-accountability group for spiritual directors facilitated by a certified spiritual director supervisor.

I am the mother of two adults and a 16 year old. My husband, Mark, and I were married in a beautiful, simple and music-filled Friends meeting for worship in 2012. We own a goofy, big house we call The Burrow that we bought because of a leading to provide hospitality. Lots of people visit and some stay for a while. Neither of us is houseproud and I tell folks that one of my spiritual gifts is lowering the bar so others can feel better about their housekeeping. We live with our dog Norbert, cats Alley and Albus, my youngest and 24 year old sons, and have recently added a young adult friend to our family. 

If you'd like to learn more about me and my approach as a spiritual director,  feel free to contact me by email or phone!

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