Matthew Johnson (he | him)

A wayfaring companion, collaborating with Vitality to bring Healing and Wholeness

Vitality – Where do I look when I’m seeking Vitality? 
When I find myself languishing, I first seek Vitality in my backyard. It is there, working with compost, grapevines, native plants, and one awesome chicken (named Chickaletta) that I can feel Vitality rising up within me. I have also discovered recently that I experience Vitality when I can interact with people in-person! I am an introvert by nature, so solitude refreshes me, but after limited in-person interactions as a result of Covid and finding myself languishing, there has been an increase in my energy level when I’ve gotten to spend time with people – especially if we are discussing spirituality. Another access point of Vitality for me comes when I set boundaries, particularly by telling someone no. This continues to be difficult for me, but I suspect that the Truthforce (Vitality) here is that I am finite, therefore unable to say yes to everything (as I am wont to do). To my amazement, when I set healthy boundaries with folks, instead of experiencing annihilation, I actually experience clarity and wholeness.

Mystery – What language do I use when talking about Mystery?
My work is primarily in Christian contexts, with occasional exceptions in more civic settings (neighborhood associations and local governments). My personal vocabulary is rooted in the Christian tradition. I am especially fond of the gospels and Jesus’ language of the “kingdom of God.” I have been fortunate to have loving, supportive, Christian companions to help me understand my mystical experiences, and a narrative of a God who is pure love. With that being said, I do take to heart the significance of the word Mystery. While my background is Christian, I recognize there is a temptation to use words from my tradition thoughtlessly. So, I welcome the chance to let people share their preferred language for Mystery and how they define those terms. I find those conversations help me stretch and grow.

Presence – In what practices do I engage to nurture Presence in my life?
My primary space for practicing presence is spiritual direction. I find it is there, in the intensity of the conversation, that so much of my mental chatter is quieted and I experience a deeper connection to the person I am companioning. It helps that I know it is my responsibility in such spaces to truly be present, so I do everything I can to limit distractions, and I also ask for lots of help from the Spirit! Another place where I practice presence is in making music. I love to make music with others, hearing the interactions of various voices, instruments, frequencies, and silences which all draw me deeply into the moment.

Moxie – How does my Moxie manifest itself (my specific passions and gifts)?
Since my adolescence I have been passionate about spirituality, and related to that, I love conversations of depth. With time, I have also discovered that I have a certain capacity for seeing people and situations through a non-judgmental lens. For this reason, I have often found myself comfortably at the margins, listening to those who have been pushed out by society. In fact, it is often there that I sense the kingdom of God moving. And occasionally, people describe my presence as healing.

A few specs…
I come from a United Methodist background. I was born and raised in a small church in rural Indiana. As an undergraduate I attended Friends University (a Quaker school) in Wichita, Kansas. It was there that I was introduced to Christian Spiritual Formation as described by Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. After completing my undergraduate in spiritual formation I was employed at a United Methodist Church for 15 years. My training in spiritual direction was with the Souljourners program, which is an ecumenical program originally co-sponsored by the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica and the Episcopal church. Instructors for the Souljourners program came from across the denominational spectrum. In 2015 I helped co-found The Neighboring Movement. And today, I focus primarily on my work as a spiritual director and retreat leader.

Most importantly, here is Chickaletta exploring the new coop I built for her.

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