“Angels Unawares”, Truly

Confluence: remarkable instances where the right people with the right gifts come together in the right place for the right task. Over a year ago a group of WVIS associate spiritual directors raised what seemed to be a perplexing question, “How can we find resources to nurture our souls, cultivate our gifts for spiritual direction, increase our sensitivity to the workings of the Holy Spirit in our world and lives, and grow our ministries?” Scrambling for answers to this multi-layered question led to the launching of THEMA, the bi-monthly digital magazine created in response to the deep needs of those called, as the poet says, “To pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” (Mary Oliver, “Instructions for Living a Life”)

As 2023 winds down, we wrap up our inaugural year of exploring the nuances of the our theme, Listening, in our digital magazine. A number of people are responsible for bringing this publication to life, and the WVIS Board of Directors would like to thank them for their behind-the-scenes efforts. The person who rises to the top is our editor, Rev. Christina St. Clair. Christina begins a new chapter in her life as an interim pastor and, facing the daunting tasks of crafting weekly sermons and providing pastoral care, is stepping down as editor. As we began our work, she was the natural choice to lead a group of writers, artists, technical experts, and support volunteers in getting this digital venture off the ground. An accomplished author, Christina worked tirelessly behind the scenes on a variety of legal and business issues germane to the e-publishing world. In her editor’s column, Christina brought together a hodge-podge of seemingly unrelated articles, reflections, artworks, videos, sermons, poems, and songs and deftly wove them together to reveal the astonishing creativity of our Maker God who speaks to us in a variety of voices. Thema is what it is today because of her marvelous gifts, and we are thankful!

We would be remiss if we overlooked the countless hours a talented group of technical experts contributed to this digital venture. Retired entrepreneur Bob Trouteaud created the infrastructure to bring the publication to life, including creating a website to publish the magazine and the process for accessing current and past issues. WVIS Marketing Director Sally Orcutt created the link between the digital magazine and the WVIS website. Our “tech guru”, she also provided round-the-clock assistance for our most confounding technical issues. Andy Malinoski, Director of the Office of Marketing and Communications for the West Virginia Department of Commerce and the WVIS Registrar continues to carry the crucial responsibility for seeing that the digital magazine gets to the computer screens of readers. In a very concrete way, Thema is what it is today because of their technical expertise, and we are thankful!

The credit for creating a visual and audio masterpiece with every issue goes to Chloe Cook whose design and lay-out efforts invite readers to explore the experiences and insights of an eclectic group of writers, artists, pastors, and musicians. Her keen eye for details and her creative sensitivities draw readers into a world where the God of Beauty rejoices, consoles, comforts, cajoles, provokes, inspires, and challenges those with “eyes to see and ears to hear.” She handles each submission with such care and respect, and in doing so, honors the work of both reader and contributor. Thema is what it is today because of her mad mix of artistic and technical skills, and we are thankful!

“Pay attention,” cautions the poet Mary Oliver, “for only if there are angels in your head will you ever, possibly, see one.” We Thema readers are graced with “angels unawares”, and our prayer is one of gratitude for glimpses of them in their shimmering contributions to our digital magazine and the broader spiritual direction ministry of the West Virginia Institute for Spirituality.

On behalf of the WVIS Board of Directors,

WVIS Executive Director Sr. Carole Riley, C.D.P., PhD, LPC, AAPC-Fellow