For most of my life I identified as “spiritual not religious.”

I’ve spent the last few decades trying to figure out this spirituality thing. I’ve trained and worked as a hospital chaplain, went to seminary, got ordained, started a meditation and yoga practice, and read a lot of books.

I have also spent 25+ years in various 12-step meetings learning how people work their spirituality (and learning how to cultivate my own). I have created and facilitated trainings on work and meaning, spirituality and anti-racism work, and developing empathy.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned:

  • Spirituality isn’t about navel gazing. It’s about getting aligned with what you’re here to do in the world and getting the power and inspiration to do it.
  • You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual. (But you can be).
  • Sometimes we think we have totally rejected religion, but underlying old beliefs and experiences can still block a deeper connection to the sacred.
  • There are A LOT  different ways to cultivate a spiritual life. I can teach you several of those. We can explore a few more together.
  • Being more deeply connected to ourselves, to other people, and to love/compassion/the holy can not only help us be more resilient in our work and life; it can also open up new ways to think, love, and experience ourselves in the world.
  • Basically it’s about transformation.


Leslie Leasure is a chaplain, writer, and group facilitator. She was the founding program director at the Ignite Institute at Pacific School of Religion – a center specializing in connecting spirituality, social justice work, and innovation. At Ignite she helped develop and facilitate a range of workshops focused on meaning and work, empathy, and inclusive spirituality. While at Ignite, she guided PSR through the Ashoka U Changemaker Campus certification process.

Leslie has been working with people in recovery for more than 26 years in various professional and volunteer roles, including serving on community and state advocacy boards, working at a SLE for homeless women struggling with SUD, and serving as a chaplain intern on the psych/addictions unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She currently teaches spirituality classes and provides client spiritual care at substance use disorder treatment centers in the San Francisco Bay Area. .

She holds an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University, an MDiv from Pacific School of Religion, and is an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ. She is the founding curator of Into the Wilderness, an online church start created in 2014 and has been a guest faculty member at the Chaplaincy Institute’s Interfaith Studies program and at the American Baptist Seminary of the West. Member of Spiritual Directors International.