621. Connie Zweig

Connie ZweigAging into Awakening

Connie Zweig, Ph.D., is a retired therapist, co-author of Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature and Romancing the Shadow: A Guide to Soul Work for a Vital, Authentic Life, author of Meeting the Shadow of Spirituality, and a novel, A Moth to the Flame: The Story of the Great Sufi Poet Rumi. Her new book, The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul, extends shadow-work into late life and teaches aging as a spiritual practice. Connie has been doing contemplative practices for 50 years. She is a wife and grandmother and was initiated as an Elder by Sage-ing International in 2017. After investing in all these roles, she is practicing the shift from role to soul.

Website: conniezweig.com

Email: conniezweig@gmail.com

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded October 22, 2021.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

620. Stephen Wright

Stephen WrightStephen Wright works as a spiritual director and trustee for the Sacred Space Foundation (SSF). Before this, he had a long and distinguished nursing career in the National Health Service and academia, the Royal College of Nursing, and as a consultant to the WHO. He gathered a few glittering prizes along the way. Then his personal and professional life took an about-turn over 35 years ago through a series of life-changing spiritual experiences. Consequently, he developed an interest in spiritual matters and the connection with wellbeing, and cofounded the SSF, to support those in spiritual crisis. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Cumbria in 2013 for his work connecting spirituality and health. Three books explore the nature of healing relationships:

Stephen has received significant development in spirituality and spiritual direction in the presence of several renowned spiritual teachers, most especially his mentor Ram Dass, at the Interfaith Seminary, and in the depth of his relationship with his fellow trustee and SSF cofounder Jean Sayre-Adams. He works with individuals seeking spiritual guidance and organizations developing the practice of healing, spiritual care, conflict resolution, staff support, compassion, and leadership. He is a supporter of and an activist in several environmental movements. As an ordained interfaith minister, he brings a rich experience of spiritual practice from many faiths to his work, as well as being a member of the Iona Community. He is a trustee of TheWEL, a charity based in Scotland offering groundbreaking approaches to wellbeing. With the support of the Diocese of Carlisle (in 2021 he was made a member of the Synod), Stephen established the St. Kentigern School for Contemplatives in 2018. His other recently published works include

and collections of poetry and chant:

Heartfullness: The Way of Contemplation: 12 steps to freedom, awakening and the Beloved completes a quartet of related books on spiritual awakening and is a deep, experiential ‘course’ in liberation from addiction to the ego-self, opening to the way of contemplation, and becoming receptive to the Beloved and a path of service.

He lives with his partner in the English Lake District, deepening service and spiritual practice, participating in his local church community, taking care of his organic garden, and enjoying grandfatherhood.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded October 16, 2021.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

619. Lucy Grace

Lucy GraceLucy was raised in a low socioeconomic household and neighborhood, by a young single mother in New Zealand in the early 1980s.

The lack of resources available in childhood resulted in a shrinking of her outer world to what she thought of –  years later – as a kind of welfare-child ashram. Within the home, and outside of it, there were few distractions or ability to go anywhere else, and significant trauma – all forcing her to go within to what she thought of as “the deep stillness and light inside” to rest, find nourishment, solace, and strength.

At 19 she experienced her first shift, seeing through the personality, and subtle perceptions revealing themselves.

She never thought much of it, there had already been so much light inside, and she was so thrilled to be in the world finally so she simply went on with living.

After a brief stint in television journalism, Lucy spent 15 years in Europe and New Zealand working for international humanitarian aid agencies.

On return to NZ at age 31, she suddenly became extremely ill.  For six months, she was mostly bedridden. Doctors, both natural and traditional, could not find the source of the illness.

Over the next few years, she had to work to earn an income but there was no strength for much else. The pain in her body was ever-present, and the fear of not knowing if this was her life forever now, was sometimes crippling.

She was forced to exist in a kind of in-between world again – of much aloneness and silence, aside from work.

After a few years of significant illness, she recovered strength enough to live a semi-normal life. But any time she tried to do too much, she was knocked back into illness.

By 35 she was in a leadership role at a non-profit, married, with a baby on the way, just surviving day-to-day with the pressure on her physical body.

On becoming a mother, she was plunged into a level of blackness that was completely shocking and previously unknown.

For more than two years she descended into complete separation and couldn’t hear the guidance that had always accompanied her in her life. For the first time ever she couldn’t feel God.

In 2018, after more than two years of immense struggle, an unexplainable and absolute surrender took place within, in a moment, as her two-year-old cried and reached for her.

Within two months she had left the career she loved to rest in what she thought of as silence. For around a year and a half, she couldn’t do much else.

Lucy had never been exposed to spirituality, nor did she know anything about its concepts or traditions. She thought meditation was for “those hippy people.”

Because there had been no conscious spiritual search, she had no context for what was happening. Often it was so beautiful and joyful – she didn’t need to know. There was an innate sense of trust and recognition that went beyond what needed to be seen or understood with the mind.

When the need to understand did arise – some online searches helped a little, but often it all felt overwhelming, and she preferred sitting in silence to hear from within. Guidance and teaching were always present and given through hearing and images. Despite this, when particularly strange things would occur the need for the mind to understand would return.

One night in 2019, before sleep, in heartfelt prayer she asked for help to cut through all the online noise and finally really grasp what was going on. There was a felt sense of need for community.

As she was awakening in the morning, she heard the words “Buddha at the Gas Pump”. Lucy says, “I was stumped. I had no idea what that meant, but Googled it and found BatGap. As a result, my life has changed. Over the years BatGap has supported me deeply in the process – nurturing trust and allowing everything to unfold as it wants to.”

From then until now, Lucy has been called over and over into deeper surrender. She has had further shifts and many clearings. Her career of 15 years, husband/partner of 16 years, many friends, and her home – all things she loved dearly – have fallen away.

She has never had a teacher and has read very little. She is not selling anything and makes no claim to know anything.

It seems to her that there is nothing to know, or that can be known. There is no one way and no right way. There is only your way, to be honoured and cherished and fallen into more and more deeply in every breath.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded October 9, 2021.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.