Archive for August, 2010

31
Aug
10

spiritual direction addendum

If you are interested in finding a spiritual director, but don’t know where to start, here are some useful links:

Spiritual Directors International • http://www.sdiworld.org.

Catholic Spiritual Direction • http://www.catholicspiritualdirection.org

Mennonite Spiritual Directors List • http://www.mennoniteusa.org/portals/O/webdownloads/dm/spiritual-directors.pdf

Unitarian Universalist Spiritual Directors’ Network • http://www.uusdn.org/

This is not an exhaustive list. Another way to find a qualified spiritual director is through your church, or a friend who can make a recommendation. If you are interested in starting by understanding your own spiritual character, try this website: http://www.upperroom.org/methodx/thelife/test.asp.

Godspeed.

28
Aug
10

spiritual direction…loving not leading

Faith journeys are about transformation from one manifestation of self to the next, and the next, and the next. The movement is not immediately forward and  outward. First it is downward and inward to the temple each of us has within–the center space fashioned slowly during the time we were incubating in our mother’s womb—or incarnating, if you will. This is my belief, no one has to agree with me. But if you do, or if you are even curious as to where I am going with this, read on.

None of us were born into a perfect world. All of us were birthed from as perfect a place as we humans can provide. It was good inside and we were happy, growing like Topsy. Then…boom! We outgrew our little homes and had to leave. The passage was tough—arduous, exhausting, shocking, but we couldn’t retreat—couldn’t go home again. And so we grew and learned how to manage our growing selves in this new world with its hungers, hazards, and unknowns. Some of us grew simply and  well, while others of us learned to put on many coats—many layers to protect our natural selves so that we could survive and keep on growing. Twenty, thirty, forty years later, we layered ones are pretty well protected…so well protected that we don’t naturally remember who we divinely were at the start.

At some point in time we begin journeying to regain the sonship or daughtership infused in us from the zygotic start. There are many roads, many ways to journey. I’ve done quite a few of them myself. Then, after a profound experience during my cancer treatment, journeying took me back to my Christian beginnings and here I am now at crossroads, stop lights, curves, even detours, but still traveling home where the light shines and the feathered, white bird waits.

Journeying can be arduous and lonely. I have a number of good friends with whom I can share my challenges, but there is something about talking to a professional, specializing in spiritual direction that is different. We commonly think of spiritual direction as guidance or the giving of advice, but it’s not that,  and definitely not psycho therapy…more like a centering experience…a place to gather the frayed edges of one’s road-weary self. We are all on our own unique, kaleidoscopic journeys—all the same and yet so different. It takes a loving heart to hear, but a practiced, dedicated ear to listen deeply.

While participating in the Bridgefolk conference at St. John’s Abbey this summer. I stopped in at the Abbey’s, Liturgical Press bookstore. Among the many titles, a little spiritual memoir by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew caught my eye: Swinging on the Garden Gate. Thumbing through, I found some parallels to my own experience and took the book home with me. What Ms. Andrew says about her own experience of spiritual direction on pages 116 and 117, sums up quite well what I began to say both in my previous post, Spiritual Healing…Art Not Science and continue here in this posting.

…the term spiritual director is misleading. It implies a right and a wrong, or that the director points and the client follows. I desired that model for learning; I wanted to sit at a teacher’s feet to receive words of wisdom, confident that someone more practiced in prayer and discernment would have the answers to my aching questions. But Linda didn’t work that way. Everything you need to know God, she said, you’ve already been given. She trusted completely (far more so than I did) the direction of the spirit’s movement within me. Her role, then, was to provide a container into which I slowly poured the stories of my childhood, adolescence, and my journey in Wales. Together we held them up to the light, looking to see where they were infused with the sacred. Linda’s wisdom, I realized, came not from profound insight so much as her ability to listen deeply. It came from her faith that a story unfolding in a place of love is transformative. As I gradually allowed her to be attentive to my journey, with all its dark, crazy and ecstatic moments, I became more attentive as well. Linda’s integrity and care held me accountable. I had to come forward. Such a safe space demanded it.

A spiritual director learns to listen deeply—not something most of us do on the day-to-day–with either family or friends. This in itself is an artful, spiritual practice of loving self-giving.  In that deep listening the Holy Spirit breathes in and around, weaving a basket that holds our thoughts, feelings, secrets, longings, hopes, dreams…all we have to bring to the table. It’s a safe place—a loving, safety deposit box with a key to wear around your heart.

My journey has become tangled once again. I am in another time of great transition. I look and see fog. One foot in front of the other, step by step toward the light I know will be there once I am there too. I am grateful to have a relationship of spiritual direction that not only blesses me, but blesses the one who deeply listens each time we talk.

26
Aug
10

spiritual healing…art not science

I had lunch with a dear friend of mine the other day and we talked a great deal about pain, suffering, and the art of healing. She talked about providing an environment of peace and beauty that encourages one’s own body to do the job of healing. The next day’s Richard Rohr meditation seemed to fit quite nicely with the thread of our conversation and presented me with a launching pad for expressing more clearly my view of the spiritual dimension of suffering.

Center for Action and Contemplation • Richard Rohr • Meditation • August 25, 2010

Paradox

When Christianity aligns itself with power (and the mindset of power) there’s simply very little room for the darkness of faith; that spacious place where God is actually able to form us.

So when we speak of paradox, I’m trying to open up that space where you can fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31), because YOU are not in control. That is always the space of powerlessness, vulnerability, and letting go. Faith happens in that wonderful place, and hardly ever when we have all the power and can hold no paradoxes. Thus you see why faith will invariably be a minority and suspect position.

Adapted from Holding the Tension: The Power of Paradox

This is what I wrote to her:

Dear Healing One,

It’s not that I enjoy these dark times, but I have received so much spiritual growth as a result of wading through them organically. I seem to go to the end of faith repeatedly and then, a huge white bird comes along, picks me up and sets me on terra firma once again. Each time I am stronger and happier. This is one reason why I resist external fixing. I absolutely love the idea of healing friends standing back with arms outstretched in prayer and love..so honoring to me. And every once in a while, when we speak face to face in my own language, my aching heart gets heard and I know I do not walk through the valley without friends. This standing back…listening…hearing…being…is the ministry of healing a bit higher up on the scale than doctoring. I believe that healers are assistants to The One Who Heals. And in addition…that healing is a many layered phenomenon. Healing is wholeness.

God in me and me in God…and in that way, one can say that the wounded one heals herself. Your faith has made you whole, says Mark 10:53 and Mark 5:34.

20
Aug
10

thinking of you

Today I found a little drawing by a very talented young girl from the church Big Dawg, Adopted Daughter Bettina and I attended until June, 2009. It was given to Bettina shortly before she died last March. The drawing was of a beautiful horse with a coat of many colors. At the top of the drawing this little girl placed a perky little pink flower with green stem and leaves. At the bottom, beneath the colorfully happy horse she wrote: I’m thinking of you.

This artwork had been amongst a pile of things collecting for months on the table next to my computer desk. Why I saw it today and not yesterday, or the day before, I don’t know. I saw it today—early this morning as I booted up and began my electronic day. Looking at it—its simple beauty took me by surprise as though I hadn’t seen it months ago, when it first came to Bettina’s bedside. She was always so happy to have these gifts from children. From child to child is how it went. I’m thinking of you, it said; and so I am, and do, and did all day long.

I decided to add another posting to her blog, Longing for Light. I called it Hovering, and published the drawing with it. Afterward, I worked again at thinning down her last few belongings…the ones most difficult to deal with. The most difficult thing was reading through the letters she had written…remembering all of the good and all of the painful things that ran through our knowing each other. I made some progress, mostly organizing and separating things for final distribution. There isn’t a lot, just a couple of small boxes, but it was difficult and I thought about her all day long.

I’m thinking of you, Tina…and the sadness returned.

Hovering: Tina promised to hover. She told everyone she would learn to hover. I don’t know if she has learned, or is learning, or maybe flunked 101. I don’t dream about her, don’t have visions, don’t feel her presence…except when my little cat Bella jumps up to sleep with me at night. At that moment I feel Tina…as though Bella brings her to me. I am especially glad when Bella chooses to come right up to my chest, settles down and stretches out there. I say, “Hi, Tina, where have you been?”

So this is Bella…or Tina…or just a pretty orange tabby. You can decide.

17
Aug
10

river of life one more time…

Yesterday I finished reading a book I’ve been plowing through for several weeks, took out the bookmark and set it down. This morning I noticed the bookmark on my desk. It’s something I picked up from a Richard Rohr workshop last year. It has a lovely shot of fall trees overhanging a river. The text at the bottom reads:

Faith does not need to push the river.

The river is already flowing; and we are already in it.

This is something I tend to forget so here is my version of that river that we/I am already in. Mercy! It’s wide!

This photo was taken in New Mexico where big, wide and beautiful is the order of the day.

14
Aug
10

driving to the dairy queen

Three friends were driving to the Dairy Queen for an ice cream treat, oh so sorely deserved after a hard week at work without play, when suddenly at the crest of the hill they saw a marvelous site in the sky. “Did you ever see anything like that?” one said to the others. No—none had except in calendars and certain religious publications.

“Wow,’ they shouted, ‘wow, let’s get a picture!”

“Stop!’ one of the friends shouted to the driver, ‘Stop here!” The driver could not stop, but pulled in at the closest spot about 200 yards down the road (definitely not on the hill where the sky had been its most spectacular).

“Okay, here then. Take it! Take it before we lose any more of it!”

The shouting one was still shouting excitedly and most impatiently. The one with the camera snapped the shutter and away they all went like the down of a thistle. As they pulled in to the DQ and juggled their purses, “Aha!” they all thought as they confidently posted their orders for this and for that, at 1000 calories each.

“And aren’t we so clever

to have seen such a sight

and captured it now and forever?”

There you are dear friends: Heaven and Earth are full of such glory:  we three friends and, now you with us, too.

(Photo courtesy of Jane B. Halteman)

13
Aug
10

grace appeared

Some may wonder how I got from such deep depression to the light and airy post like the previous one. I’m not clinically manic-depressive, just an intense feeling-type with strong views and thin skin vs. thick skin. It’s a long story with many twists and turns over the past 2 years.

I have some very good friends who showed up in answer to my repetitive prayers for help. Maybe it’s because I am basically such a strong person (and/or resistant), but God often allows me to come to the very edge of the cliff—not just to see it there, but to actually dangle off the side of it before the dawn breaks and I see what I need to see. For me it’s a process of seeing the mysterious connections that light reveals. It’s not a linear mind thing. It’s intuitive…a sense of knowing that is unmistakable from my own knowing this or that. And then with the grace of sudden clarity, I see the path that I didn’t see before. Maybe the path was covered with weeds, or grass. Or maybe I was in a cluttered room that only dim light could pierce, or alone in a dark room. This is the transformative process of coming to the end of one’s self to see the God within.

The thing is, that there will be many ends of myself before my life is over…many dark nights of the soul…many transformative surgeries. The up side is that each surgery brings deeper faith…less of me and more of thee. This is a hard thing to understand. It’s not about becoming no one and nothing. It’s about becoming—one with God as Jesus was one with God. (John 10:30)

I have not yet come to welcoming these trials. Perhaps when I do, they will be less dramatic and more endurable. Now is now and this is where I am. Grace is here. I love that old Gospel hymn,

Just as I am, by Charlotte Elliot, 1840

What can I say? I’m older than you think.




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