Encounters with God There is an ancient Buddhist text, the Samyutta Nikaya, that recounts teachings from the Buddha’s lifetime. One verse describes the Buddha’s right-hand man, Ananda, turning to the Buddha to exclaim, “Lord, I’ve been thinking that spiritual friendship is at least half of the spiritual life!” “No, Ananda,” the Buddha replies. “Spiritual friendship is the whole of the spiritual life.” So it was at the Collegeville Institute last July. Twelve participants in the writing workshop Apart & Yet A Part met as strangers, and deep friendships were kindled over the course of the week. During our last evening together, we seized on the idea of continuing our connection through a shared writing project. Several of us decided to write about our encounters with the divine, attempting to answer the question, “How do you know that God exists?” For me, the friendship experienced in the writing of these pieces became in itself an important encounter with the divine. The resulting essays—my piece examining ecology and faith, Kurt Armstrong’s reflection on Christian commitment, Paige Eve Chant’s family memories, and Porter Taylor and Jamie Howison’s stories of how their pastoral careers began—will be published here in Bearings Online in the spring of 2016, and are listed below. We hope that our words stir in you a recollection of your own significant encounters with God. —M. Sophia Newman Apart and Yet a Part writing workshop participants, 2015 A Wild Strawberry Patch Encounters with God, Part One by M. Sophia Newman Is some aspect of spirituality innately wound together with nature? It wasn’t what I came to Collegeville to consider, but it wasn’t far off. Ten Voices Encounters with God, Part Two by Jamie Howison Jamie Howison shares a story of ten voices who helped him hear God’s call on his life. “The Frightening Thing Is Not Living” Encounters with God, Part Three by Kurt Armstrong Nowadays big-picture meaningfulness is highly contestable. In spite of this, I place my bet on genuine meaning, held by a God who minds the details. Motherland Encounters with God, Part Four by Paige Eve Chant When people ask me where I’m from, I tell them I’m from California. But what I really want to say is that I come from the place that is my grandmother. Hungry for God Encounters with God, Part Five by Porter Taylor In the years since Emory, I seldom cry when I eat the bread and drink the cup in church. But for me they are still the doorway into the mystery.