I am knee-deep in my capstone paper for the advanced certificate in the supervision of spiritual directors program I am in. The topic - grief.
Yet, intellectually talking about how to accompany those in grief and those walking with those in grief touches us in a different way when we are in our own season of loss.
A week ago, I was at the beach. For Christmas this year, I surprised my family with a brick on the new walkway through the town we usually stay with in honor of my grandpa. This beach was a special place for Pap because of the memories he had there with us. Seeing my family stand around his brick was both healing and had grief washing over me anew.
While we were away we also received word that one of the giants of faith in my life passed away. My uncle was a man who taught me about loving Jesus and community. Another wave of grief.
Perhaps more than any other time in our lives, we need faithful companions when we are navigating the long-hull of grief. Who are those people for you and what makes them your companion on the journey?
Do you have places in your life where you can listen? Truly listen? Maybe places where you don't just hear, but you feel freedom to respond?
For me, one of those places of holy listening is in my car. When I'm not distracted by checking email or lots of folks trying to have conversations with me at once, all of a sudden I have space to truly hear. Deeply hear. Do that type of hearing that comes from a places outside of myself.
Maybe for you it isn't the car. Maybe it's someplace else entirely. But I wonder, where are those places and what are those experience of holy listening like for you?
One of my favorite days in the Church calendar is Pentecost. We celebrate the birth of the Church through the Holy Spirit. It's a day filled with the color red and words about the Holy Spirit being like a tongue of fire and rushing wind.
The problem is that we don't dwell on this day. We don't dwell on what it means to abide in the Spirit of power and truth, conviction and calling, justice and mercy in our lives.
I was recently talking with some colleagues who lamented that the red of Pentecost comes down so quickly. While there is the season of Christmas and the season of Easter, we call what starts the very next day the "season after Pentecost".
What would it look like to live into a season of Pentecost with the Spirit in your life? What might you be invited to during this time?
As part of the practicum that I am currently in with the Center for Courage and Renewal, we get to meet in peer learning groups two times before a closing retreat. In these groups we are held by simply being listened to as we share what is on our heart, what goal we have related to our sharing, and the best way(s) for the group to respond to us.
What a transformative space!
As I was reflecting upon what makes it so, I realized that it is being listened to and having people who are willing to respond in the ways that I need the most at that moment.
All too often, people are quick to jump in with personal stories or advice and in this group, I was able to say that what I needed most were questions to ask myself and sit with.
Where are your spaces that you are truly listened to and people are willing to respond with what you deeply need?
I am knee-deep in project mode right now, working on my capstone paper and presentation for the certificate program I am enrolled in. It amazes me how fast this past year and these five courses have flown by.
A few weeks ago, we were given the opportunity to present our topic and outline to our professors and while there are certainly still some hiccups to be worked out, it felt so good to present on something that weaves together so many areas of my life.
It made me think, though, of how much of my life is disjointed - doing one thing over here and another over there. It doesn't feel whole, integrated, or abundantly alive to me.
How would you describe your life, these days? Are you integrated or fragmented? And what draws your life together?
Michelle is a Spiritual Director and End of Life Doula. She is the founder of Abide in the Spirit.
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