Even as a young child when she would spend her summers away from Connecticut visiting family in Key Biscayne and skating at the Crandon Park Zoo, Susan Bruttell sensed a spiritual calling.
“It’s something that I felt from the time I was very little,” said Reverend Susan, rector and head of school at St. Christopher’s by the Sea Episcopal Church and Montessori School. “I always felt that connection to God and that there was something I was supposed to be doing with that.”
When her parents split up and they stopped going to church she recalls being very upset and making a decision to keep going on her own. “I would continue to go and I would walk across the street through the field and straight to the church. I joined the choir and did all those things as a youth.”
Now in her eighth year of service, the former director of spiritual care and ethics at Memorial Regional Hospital, said it is keeping her “daily office” of prayers and spiritual contemplation that enables her to stay centered.
“I love what I do and I stay true to my own authenticity in terms of my relationship with God, In the Episcopal Church the daily office is prayer every morning and evening, celebrating the mass, community, and communion…and that’s an important part of staying centered to what’s really important.”
When asked about what it’s like to be a woman spiritual leader in a predominately male led profession, she said she recognizes there are systemic prejudices going back centuries that people may be largely unaware of expressing, but she considers it a sacred privilege to do the work she does.
“Some people because they have grown up traditionally it may be a hard thing for them to see, but others find the uniqueness very special, more sacramental. If we are all created in God’s image and he created male and female, it presents a more holistic view of God.”
Having recently returned from a retreat she was eager to share highlights from her experience.
“I’m always fascinated about words or phrases used in the Bible and how often they’re repeated. ‘Be not afraid’ is a commandment, not a suggestion. And the word ‘love, love one another’ in some form or another is found 1,285 times.”
This is her main message for how to participate with others during the holy season of Advent in anticipation of Christmas.
“It is up to us…to reach out…to help people feel loved,” said Reverend Susan.
“We put such emphasis on the holiness of the holidays, the family gatherings, and the love that is shared between people, and that is not always the case. Not everybody is going to be happy over the holiday because some people are facing horrific circumstances.”
“If you’re struggling, it’s not likely that you are going to reach out. It’s up to us to reach out to them.”