“I am learning how to love in a healthy way, being playful and open to God.”
Diana Peters is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Colorado. She was ordained in 1996, following seminary training at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. Before entering the priesthood, Diana was a school drama teacher and a marketing manager in the automated mapping industry. She has been married to her husband Gary since 1981 and has two sons, a stepdaughter, and four grandchildren. She lives in Thornton, Colorado, where she is the rector of Intercession Episcopal Church.
Q: What experiences put you on your spiritual path?
A: I have a memory, whether real or a dream, of the angels preparing me to be born. The angels said, “Remember, you have to breathe in and out, in and out.” I was worried I would forget and they replied, “Don’t worry. Your body is so marvelously made, it will do it for you.” This experience started me on my spiritual path early.
As a child, I loved going to church. I especially liked singing and communion, feeling drawn to the sacramental side of worship. As an adult, I was an active lay minister. When I finished a ministry, I’d ask God what I should do next. One time God replied, “I want you to become a priest.” At first I doubted. When the desire became almost overwhelming, I followed God’s will.
We think it will be easy to follow God’s will. After all, God said, “I will be a lantern unto your feet.” But, in ancient times, lanterns were tiny pots that cast only enough light to take a few steps. So it’s exciting and scary to follow God’s will, to see only a few steps ahead and decide to follow anyway.
Q: Anything else?
A: It concerns me how many people believe there is only one way to “be saved.” I’ve had people come to me at funerals and say they are scared for their deceased love one because she or he never accepted Jesus. I’ve asked, “Did the person love you? And did you love the person?” When they replied, “Yes,” I reminded them that Jesus taught us that God is love. If the person was capable of loving, then God was part of them. Jesus said, “I did not lose a single one of those you gave me” (John 18:9). I’m disappointed when churches use scare tactics to get people to behave as they want.
A Roman Catholic psychotherapist, whose brother committed suicide after suffering from severe depression, came to me because she feared her brother would not go to heaven. I asked, “Was your brother’s depression an illness?” She replied, “Yes.” “If someone died of cancer, would you think he couldn’t be with God?” She replied, “No.” “Then why wouldn’t your brother be with God? He died from a disease just a deadly and out of his control as cancer.” Some diseases are so challenging they have to be cured in God’s loving arms. I’d like us to realize God’s immense compassion. We’re deceiving ourselves defining God so narrowly.
For the rest of the interview, please check out the book, Seek The Lover Within: Lessons from 50 Spiritual Leaders.