I try hard to not have spiritual direction and supervision in the same week after having my personal spiritual direction session and two supervision sessions for Abide all in the same day. I was wrung out, even if it was in a good way, at the end of that day!
So I try really hard to space out my spiritual direction and supervision sessions, but this week they ended up being on back to back days. And it felt like a beautiful overload.
I certainly wouldn't advocate for folks to go about their scheduling in that particular way, but the result was the ability to give voice to something I had been noticing, but couldn't really put words to, with two very wise spiritual guides.
I wonder what leads to beautiful overload in your life? What helps you to give voice to your deep noticings and longings? And what is that experience like for you?
I had what I am calling the never-ending day recently.
Vacation Bible School had been intermixed with preparing for a funeral and a medical flare-up, but on the day in question, things seemed to actually be going smoothly. I had been able to catch up paperwork that had been pushed aside in the midst of my medical concerns, attended a prayer meeting, and held a spiritual direction session.
But as I was getting in my car to drive to a funeral visitation, one of the dreaded lights came on in my car. In particular, the orange ‘low tire pressure’ light that had just been on a week and a half earlier. I knew this meant that I had managed to drive over a nail or a screw, so instead of heading the funeral home, I headed to the garage.
After being told that it would be about an hour before the tire could be looked at, I settled into the waiting room with a book on worship, only to never get past the second page. I was sitting with an older gentleman who kept looking at me with concern before finally asking if the mechanics at the garage treat me well. Assuaging his fears, I tried to return to my book, still open to the same page, only for him to being to tell me his life story. He had no idea I was a clergy person, but he shared for the next thirty minutes his life story. Ups and downs. Twists and turns. When his named was called, it looked like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders as he smiled and thanked me for listening. All I could think was that I was on holy ground in the middle of waiting for a tire repair.
When I arrived at the funeral home, the family asked if I would be willing to return that evening for a service commenting my congregation members sixty-three years with the local fire department. Unhesitatingly, I said yes, even though it would mean switching around the VBS schedule a bit for that evening. When I arrived for the service, no less than twenty firefighters in their dress blues walked by the casket in a single file line. While the service itself was incredibly moving, what touched my spirit was what was said after the service was over - that this gentleman being honored had helped to train every single firefighter that evening. As someone who sometimes struggles wondering what impact I am making and what legacy I am leaving behind, I was blown away with the reach of this one man beyond his wildest imagination. All I could think was that I was on holy ground in the middle of a funeral home.
Heading to the funeral home, from VBS, I decided to stop by my house. I had a few extra minutes and I thought I could drop off my computer bag, only to find a congregation member wondering around the exterior of the parsonage. When I ran up to her, she started to tell the tale of how she had been kicked out of her home due to a misunderstanding and was in desperate need a washroom. I showed her into my house, quietly praying for the words to say in the midst of difficult family dynamics. All I could think was that I was standing on holy ground in the middle of my dining room.
If I’m honest, I don’t always relish the unperdictable nature of ministry, just like my colleague for the beginning of this article. I crave structure, of which there was already none on this particular week. Yet, in the unexpected the Spirit was moving and I got to bear witness in a way that impacted me as well.
Sometimes we don’t realize that we are standing on holy ground. Other times we get the blessing of catching glimpses. Predictable or unperidcable. Scheduled or unscheduled. The Spirit is on the move and we get to be a part of telling the story.
This past Monday I woke up grumpy. My natural groove of both work and sleep had been thrown off. I had to go to an early morning meeting that I didn't want to go to. That type of grumpy.
But when I arrived at this meeting I was greeted by the sight of a friend - someone who I hadn't seen in a while. It was so good just to see her smiling face, which shifted around my entire attitude and day.
More often then I would like to admit I get grumpy when my schedule gets out of wack. And when I'm grumpy I know that I am less attentive to noticing and responding to the movement of the Spirit. Monday was. good reminder for me that sometimes I just need to let the Spirit move freely - unconstrained by my timing, expectations or even attitude.
What can block you from noticing and responding to the Spirit moving in your life?
I was recently in an interview for a continuing education program that.... could have went better.
There is a large commitment of time required for this program, so I had been reaching out for months for a schedule, only to be told again and again that it wasn't available. Even up to two weeks before the interview, it still wasn't ready.
When I entered the interview and handed the schedule, of corse one of the two required dates happen to be when I'm unavailable, which I shared right away, only to be met with what I thought was judgment about why I didn't know that before the interview.
Judgment never feels good, yet, how many times a week do we feel like we face it? Where are the non-judgmental spaces in your life? And what types of spaces do you feel are most transformative for you on your spiritual journey?
Michelle is a Spiritual Director and End of Life Doula. She is the founder of Abide in the Spirit.
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