The Collective Series: Deb Walters

Deb Walters is a spiritual director and Enneagram facilitator who also just so happens to be a dear friend of ours. When Steph and I thought about people we wanted to interview for the Collective Series, Deb’s name came to mind right away. She is both wise and thoughtful especially when it comes to her words. Deb is an excellent listener and her responses are always generous and insightful. She has become a trusted friend to both Steph and I, and we are delighted to introduce her to you. 

What started you on a simple and thoughtful journey?

The first half of my life I was busy building the container by creating relationships and a home, and during that time you can be collecting things, titles, and jobs. Now, in the second half of life, I started to wonder about what goes into my container and realized some of it was helpful, but had served its purpose and needed to go making space for more meaningful stuff. 

By nature I’m a reflective and curious person so I began to wonder and ask those questions. Life is chaotic, and I find that tiring, so I’m always looking for things that are peaceful. 

Do you have a morning ritual/routine?

My mornings are super slow, and I don’t do well when I am rushed. Even if I have a super early morning where I have to catch a flight or something, I will intentionally pad that  time significantly so I can have space. I’m not friendly when I’m rushed. 

Typically, I get up, and don’t turn on a lot of lights. I like things dim as I find light intrusive. Part of my morning practice is that I seek to be faithful to a twenty minute centering prayer sit. More often than not it becomes a lovely place for me to listen and be present to God. There are other times that I’m sitting there fighting not to make my grocery list for twenty minutes with my eyes closed, but it’s part of being human. I’m not looking for perfection because that doesn’t exist, but faithfulness, I can do that.

Favorite Hot Drink? 

I drink a lot of coffee. I love a good, strong cup of coffee with cream.

What’s your favorite season and why?

Summer always brings to mind ideas of gathering, spaciousness, barbecues, and lazy days. It’s so generous with all the beautiful, fresh vegetables and fruit and long days. Summer also holds the promise of spring and fall. 

What does beauty look like to you? 

I think for me  beauty is found in authenticity,and honesty. When a person or thing is just truthfully what it is, that is beautiful to me. Beauty can also be found in  broken places and overlooked things and people. I try to take the time to pay attention to what is beautiful and honest around me which requires a little more presence and attentiveness. 

Many times, I can see the beauty in something that is broken, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be what society or culture would say is beautiful. It always surprises me that we often pass by quiet and unpretentious things, missing their beauty because we’ve been trained by society to think of beauty as something else. If it’s not all airbrushed, or flashy then it may be seen as valueless. I don’t believe that to be true.

Ways you weave love into your home? 

I serve my family. I scrub the floor. I clean the toilet. That is love too. It is self sacrificing, seeing as they aren’t my favourite things to do. Joyful ways of serving would be meal making and hospitality. I always love imagining a way to make a good healthy meal prepared for people I love. 

One practical home good you couldn’t live without? 

This is an easy one. My favourite thing even as I imagine it it’s beautiful to me. It’s my dish brush. I love my wooden dish brush. It has the qualities of utility and beauty. I appreciate its neutral colour and it has a sculptural quality. I like that it allows me to not touch the icky washing up stuff. I hate it when you have a really dirty pan and you have to put your hand in the water. It’s like, “I’ll do that for you,” my little dish brush says! It’s beautiful and functional. Also the brush heads are replaceable, and I like not throwing the whole thing away. 

Something that you are currently reading, listening to, or podcast?

I’m reading Facets of Unity, The Enneagram of Holy Ideas by  A. H. Almaas, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri Nouwen, and Called to be Saints by Gordon T. Smith. I’m reading one of the books for work, another for a retreat I’m hosting, another for a course I’m teaching, and after all that there is my pleasure reading. 

Richard Rohr’s Another Name for Everything, James Finley’s Turning to the Mystics, and On Being’s Poetry Unbound. My friend Chris Heuertz has a new podcast starting next month called Enneagram Map Makers. He’s going to interview all of the great living teachers of the Enneagram. 

One book or music album you couldn’t live without? 

Some really shaping books would be The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis because there is so much truth and wisdom contained in them, Mindful Silence by by Phileena Heuertz because it is such a great primer for contemplative practice, and Book of Hours: Love Poems to God by Rainer Maria Rilke because there needs to be  poetry book in there.

What does your ideal Sabbath look like?

It would be pretty slow and peaceful. 

I remember in my fundamental days being so hung up about resting on the Sabbath. Then I read the scripture where the disciples are walking through the wheat field and rubbing the wheat, and the Pharisees were concerned about the disciples working, and Jesus said, “No, the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” So it serves us, we don’t serve it. Sabbath invites me to rest and recover.

I also think I need more than one Sabbath a week. 

What would you tell your 18 year old self?

In some ways, I wish I had known then what I know now. I would have gone to university, but I didn’t believe I had the ability. I process things differently than other people, so that was a challenge in school. Everything fires very quickly in my brain, so I jump from one thing to the next. Throw in my vivid imagination, and my teachers perceived that as a negative.

But I don’t think learning is about the intellectual capacity to parrot what other people tell you. I think it’s really about curiosity, wonderment, asking questions, and thinking with and trusting your own mind . So, I would have told that 18 year old girl that.