The Compelling Spiritual Path of a Gay Former Nun with Jan Phillips

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One does not need to believe in God to be a practicing mystic. It doesn’t take a priest or rabbi or an Imam to get you there. Anyone can have a connection to Divine Source; but it takes practice—a spiritual practice. We often begin our spiritual journey with inherited doctrines, established traditions, families, churches, and cultures that lay out the rules and regulations. However, if we’re a person who possesses spiritual enthusiasm, our journey is an evolutionary one; it involves transformation. For some of us, as we mature, we begin to think independently, ask new questions, and arrive at our own conclusions about matters of divinity. This is the quest of Jan Phillips, a former postulate of the Catholic church. Here she reveals her religious crucible and the wisdom she’s gained along the way. She says, “I’m no longer a seeker, I’m a finder. Every morning, I find my source. As I say in one of my poems, ‘I eat God for breakfast, and all day long. I metabolize love'."   (hosted by Justine Willis Toms) 


Jan Phillips is an award-winning photographer, writer, multimedia artist, and workshop leader. She's a co-founder of the Livingkindness Foundation, a global network for grassroots philanthropists. Early in her life she entered a convent as a novice to become a nun at the Catholic community of nuns at St. Joseph’s Provincial House in Latham, New York. After three years she was abruptly and surprisingly dismissed which led her on a life-quest to seek her personal spiritual truth. 

Jan Phillips is the author of many CDs and books including:

  • The Art of Original Thinking: The Making of a Thought Leader (9th Element Press 2006)
  • Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity (Quest Books 1997)
  • God Is at Eye Level: Photography as a Healing Art (Quest Books 2000)
  • Born Gay: Images & Reflections of an Ordinary Lesbian (Jan Phillips 2003)
  • No Ordinary Time: The Rise of Spiritual Intelligence and Evolutionary Creativity (Livingkindness Foundation 2011)
  • Still On Fire: Field Notes of a Queer Mystic (Unity Books 2021) 

To learn more about the work of Jan Phillips go to

Topics explored in this dialogue include:

  • What inspired Phillips to pursue becoming a nun
  • What was the pivotal spiritual question that moved Phillips to deeper spiritual understanding
  • Phillips describes the shocking moment when she was abruptly dismissed from the convent
  • Why was Phillips not allowed to have a fellow “thinking partner” in the convent
  • What were the rituals at the convent that were worth preserving
  • How did Phillips feel when she confessed to a priest that she was gay and she was refused communion
  • What led Phillips to become a photographer
  • Who was the former nun and activist with whom Phillips had a relationship for over fifty years
  • Phillips describes being present in Albany, New York at the first Gay Pride Weekend
  • How did the book by Ken Keyes, The Hundredth Monkey, inspire Phillips to travel around the world as a Peace Activist
  • What did Father Oshida teach Phillips about Buddhism and Christianity
  • How did the chaos of India rewire Phillips’ brain
  • How Phillips became a post-theist and discovered God is everywhere
  • What was the result of leading a workshop on spirituality where attendees were instructed to not us the word G.O.D. 

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 4/25/2022   Program Number: 3758  

Music Playlist

From Album: Greatest Hits Chant (various artists)
Artist: The Trappist Monks of Gethsemani

Opening Essay: Track 08 Illuminare, illuminare Jerusalem From Responsory (mode 5)

From Album: Ever With You
Artist: Jan Phillips

Music Break 1: Track 10 I Will Not Leave You Comfortless
Music Break 2: Track 01 I Feel You Everywhere
Music Break 3: Track 11  Psalm for Unity