Mysterious Ways assistant editor Dan Hoffman shares his personal milestones from 2016.
Posted in , Dec 15, 2016
Almost exactly a year ago, I began working at Mysterious Ways. I had no idea what to expect. Before I applied to the job, I hadn’t even heard of Guideposts, only The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale’s famous book. I hadn’t worked in an office before, and my writing experience was limited to a small amount of freelance work. In fact, since college I hadn’t worked anywhere for longer than eight months, because I moved around so much in my early twenties.
Hitting my one year mark here is a major milestone. The skills I’ve learned and friendships I’ve formed have been life-changing. Here are some of my highlights from the past year:
Getting Hired at Mysterious Ways
It was somewhat of a miracle I was hired here, considering where my life was just before—I was unemployed, suffering from an injury, and generally in bad shape, physically and spiritually. Then, one day at my Sunday meditation group, I shared about how I wasn’t doing well. On my way out, a woman approached me and said she was moved by what I’d told the group. She was a massage therapist, and offered to treat me for whatever I could afford—she felt compelled to make that gesture. I accepted the offer and after three sessions felt a lot better.
Before saying goodbye the last time, I asked her if I’d ever see her at meditation again, only to discover that she went to that group just once, the day she met me, a fact that I felt was no coincidence. I told this very story to the senior editors of Guideposts during my second interview—which helped assure them that I was the right person for the job. Being here has made me hyper-aware of the powerful force that seems to bring the right people into my life at just the right time.
Working with Contributors
In October, I blogged about a connection I made with an author, Christine Johnson, who is featured in the December/January 2016 issue of Mysterious Ways. When I read Christine’s story, I realized she lived at one time in my hometown, so I called her and we had a pleasant conversation about where I grew up.
As editors, we get to know the authors and contributors we work with, and their stories are just as uplifting for us as they are for readers. I can’t count the times I’ve been worried or down about something, and after talking with a contributor I feel cheered up and inspired. It’s an honor and a privilege to speak with so many great people from all around the country. I experienced this tenfold at our bi-annual Guideposts writers’ workshop, where I spent five days with this year’s 12 contest winners.
Visits to Blue Cliff Monastery
Twice during the last year, I visited Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate New York for weekend retreats. During the first visit, I had a lot on my mind, since I’d just had a falling out with one of my dearest friends. From a young monk, I learned the importance of slowing down, being with my feelings without reacting to them right way, and letting things harmonize. Months later I returned for a second visit, this time with my parents. It brought us together and we were able to be present with each other in a way normally not possible.
Five Days of Silence at the Abbey of Gethsemani
Long before I began working at Guideposts, I was interested in meditation. With that in mind, my co-editor Diana Aydin suggested, “Why don’t we send you to a monastery so you can write a story?” The Abbey of Gethsemani was the perfect choice, because I’d been reading its most famous monk, Thomas Merton, who wrote about spirituality, contemplation, even Zen.
My five-day trip in September—spent in near-total silence—was one of the more transformative experiences of my life, one that planted seeds in me that are still growing. I blogged about it here, and the full story is coming up in the Mysterious Ways February/March 2017 issue.
What were your spiritual highlights this year? Give us your year-in-review!