Quite a few months ago, I expanded what we offered in terms of spiritual direction to something I had never done before - short-term spiritual direction. What I was used to was the more traditional set up for spiritual direction - which is an on-going, monthly relationship. But something in my spirit stirred to try short-term spiritual direction for people with a particular question for discernment.
And I loved it.
This experiment gave me a way to intentionally sit with people for a short period of time to do deep listening together.
A few weeks ago, I was able to celebrate this with my supervisor - I took a risk and found a new expression for my passion.
What risk are you waiting to try next?
This week someone in my congregation asked me a very sweet, but very important question: "Michelle, who surrounds you in this work?"
What this person was trying to get at - was life is hard. Work can be challenging. So how do I make sure that I am spiritually surrounded by people who uplift me (and challenge me!) when needed?
He was shocked when I started to list off my people - those who surround me. We started with groups like family and friends. But I also have a spiritual director. A discipleship group. Prayer partners.
Why so many folks? Because I believe in having a wide network of spiritual support. People I can turn to.
I wonder who surrounds you? Maybe it's not the same type of people or groups that I listed - but we aren't meant to go through this life alone. So who surrounds you, beloved?
We talk about listening a lot here at Abide in the Spirit because it is a core value that ties together so much of our mission, ministry, and purpose.
Just this past week I was reminded how important whole and holy listening is - because of its seeming lack in conversations I was having. From a text - where a question was left unanswered, to a conversation where I asked if I could speak only to have someone talk louder and faster over me, to a conversation where keywords were ignored and thus we got nowhere - the lack of space for authentic listening made me value places and spaces where it does happen even more.
I don't think I'm alone in craving spaces of listening. Nor do I think that the snippets I shared from my week are unique to me. Where are the spaces where you find that listening - wholly and fully - are lacking? And where do such spaces appear in your life where holy listening can thrive?
One of the reasons that Abide has the vision to offer holy listening and sacred space is that it accompanies all of life.
What do I mean by that?
When I come to spiritual direction (group or individual) or supervision, I don't just come bringing one part of myself or another. I don't come just solely lift up trials or joys. Instead, in that space I find that I don't need to compartmentalize, but can bring whatever the Spirit has prompted me to bring.
And if I'm honest, the Spirit continues to prompt me to bring even throughout the sessions themselves.
With my own spiritual direction, I may bring something that the Spirit has laid on my heart, but 50 minutes and ten things later, I realize that the Spirit was leading me down a path that I may not have been as attentive to on my own.
So where are the spaces where you can bring your whole self and see what God unfolds?
Michelle is a Spiritual Director and End of Life Doula. She is the founder of Abide in the Spirit.
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