Chris Motley and Trudy Baltz
Trudy and Chris have been part of the Bread of Life community for over 10 years. Trudy participated in a clergy/therapist dialogue group while the organization was still in Davis. Chris was going through a period of spiritual hunger, and found spiritual direction at Bread of Life 8 years ago. Later, after the organization moved to Sacramento, Trudy completed the spiritual director training program.     

Having financial background and experience, Chris is very clear-minded about his own field. He says the world of finance is, generally and justly, not regarded as a direct path to Spirit. He sees the corrosive effects that greed and self-interest have been having on our nation’s economy and spirit, and sometimes in the name of Christianity. But he credits his career path with giving him the chance to trust, love, and respect some people whose political and religious views are far removed from his.  And, of course, to taste the nasty unconsciousness of some people whose politics and theology he shares. So, he believes it has kept him, sometimes, from feeling too comfortable with his own righteousness.

What Inspires Them

Focused on the role of nurturing and safety or lack of them in a human’s life, Trudy grew up wanting and needing to be someone who provides them to others. Her initial career choice—to become an art historian—was shaped by a love of the humanities and an early knowing of how necessary, and redemptive, art and beauty are to the human spirit.  But she realized that academic art history would never be an environment where she could nurture and create safety as she wished. Becoming a clinical psychologist has been a far more fulfilling and true calling. But nurturing in the context of being a mother has been the path that has felt most true, and brought the deepest meaning and joy, even as it has sometimes been at the cost of great suffering.

Inspired by Dante, Chris started learning Italian when he was 25 so he could read his works, and the Commedia has been one of his two main spiritual guides for many years (the other is Matthew books 5 – 7). Growing up, Trudy has been inspired mostly by some of my teachers—those who did not just teach their subject matter well, but who made her feel excited and inspired at the richness to be found both inside and outside her.

What They Take Pride In

When asked what he is most proud of in his life, Chris says that it is his commitment to being mostly kind to people, and that sometimes he has helped them laugh, not necessarily as a conscious choice but as an inborn hardwired preference, so no more something to be proud of than one’s height. But if people can remember him as someone who sometimes brought kindness and laughter, that would be enough. On her part, Trudy is proud of having helped another to feel seen and affirmed for who they really are and find their life’s truest path. But in recent years a need to inspire others grew more salient, leading her to sculpture. When her work helps a viewer appreciate more deeply the depth and beauty of the human spirit in the face of loss, it is not so much pride I feel—more a connection to what is deepest and most redemptive in her and others. 

Not too many people know that Chris wrote an old man’s love song a few years ago because he says that in this under-committed and oversexed culture of ours, there aren’t many love songs about how generative, grateful, and mortal one feels still being in love going into the final decades of one’s life. He also considers one of his treasured accomplishments the fact that he’s given love, respect and support to a sculptor whose work has touched his life deeply with its soul and its wisdom.  

Looking back at age 64, Chris admits that he has always had a religious temperament—which is perhaps why he has always struggled with organized religion. And knowing, somehow, that whatever form his spiritual life took, it had to incorporate doubt and suffering in a way that could not be either glib or slick. He continues, “My path has been unorthodox. Externally, my professional life on Wall Street and in business has given me a chance to see firsthand why avarice was, and is, one of the seven deadly sins. I have had to learn, too, of the existence of evil; it has touched one of my children profoundly. As I get older, I go back to Bach and Dante and to gratitude for the ordinary:  friends who show up when I need them; the laughter that can help us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death; my beloved Trudy; that feeling of being grounded and at home when I have my monthly spiritual direction.”

What They Found in Bread of Life

So, what did a financial professional and a clinical psychologist find at Bread of Life? “It has given both of us a place in which we can feel that our rather heterodox Christianity—long on doubt, short on dogma—has a valid place to be expressed and explored. Also, it is very moving to us each time we are there, to see the ways in which the organization reaches out to, and has become a part of, the community around it. Both of us are artists (Trudy visual, Chris musical) who know in our bones that art, at its best, is a manifestation of spirit.” 

Chris and Trudy’s generous and loyal support for the mission came as a natural extension of their belief in the important role it plays in the community.  Chris says, “Some organizations talk the talk of Christianity. Bread of Life walks the walk. And those working there create an atmosphere that is shaped by their own honesty, integrity, and capacity to be spiritually present from moment to moment.”