Dear Colleague

“For the opposite of clinging is not letting go but cherishing. This is the goal of the practice of humility. That having a “light grasp” on life prepares the way for cherishing what is right in front of us.” Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, Gregory Boyle

Dear Colleague,

This year, with the pandemic, social unrest, and a national mental health crisis spilling into its third year, you are returning to your full-time job less rested than ever. Back online, we find that spotty in-person connections are now the norm, not the exception as they once were. In the course of the past year, our confidence that our work leads towards goodness and healing has been tested. 

To be honest, I woke up again with pain in my chest. It’s the damn anxiety I’ve been fighting off with my own therapy, exercise, Scripture reading, and periods of presence with good friends. As I engage the complexity of this moment in my personal and professional work, it seems clear that this is a crucial season. I am certain you feel this too. 

Often, we mental health laborers are tired. Tired of being told to look for another place to work, worship, collaborate, eat, live, and stay. Burn out will chase us. Love will abandon us. Play will tease us. And, yes, faith will feel desperate. 

It is my hope that when you feel the temptation to despair, you will look at each moment as an invitation to take a “holy pause.”

I hope you can put tasks on hold and reconnect with what matters most: where you are now, what brought you here, and how presence and faith may intersect with you in varying spaces. 

Perhaps in this moment that feels both vulnerable and dangerous, there is an invitation from our Creator to be present in this place and on this journey. For, although I am uncertain of the future, I have certainty of the abiding presence of Creator. 

So, find a way to welcome yourself with kindness–whether it’s with a friend, stranger, or a part of yourself that is exiled from your emotional, spiritual, or physical located-ness in the world. Make a safe place for the doubts, questions, and curiosities.

I long for a time when we can once again be on the ground and in the flesh, developing connections across our specialities, growing relationships, and cultivating community. I long for this with deep hope, that kind that aches. Until then, dear colleague, know that I will be here.

Your friend,


Danielle S. Castillejo grew up in the swirl of a mixed identity, with a German father and a Mexican mother. With her four children in school full time, she applied to graduate school at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. Before her second year of graduate school, she was invited to explore her story through a Story Workshop at The Allender Center. She went on to complete Levels 1 and 2 of the Certificate in Narrative Focused Trauma Care and the Externship. Since our culture has experienced such an intense ripping and cultural identity crisis, Danielle addresses internalized racism and its effects personally, in her family, and in her community. She encourages other healing practitioners to do the same. Danielle began this process with her MA in Counseling Psychology and studies at The Allender Center. Danielle loves the anticipation of spring and summer in the Pacific Northwest, with the return of long days and sunlight absent in the dark winters. You can easily find Danielle out on a trail or working in her yard. You can also find her online at