I have recently returned from the beach, where in addition to watching the waves hit the shore, I was also on crab patrol.
Sand crab patrol, to be specific.
Sand crabs blend into the beach around them, jumping in and out of small holes in the sand for protection, especially from birds. But in order to make the holes big enough for them, they dip in and out, scooping out sand as they go. Generally, they throw that sand right outside of there hole - peeking out and scurrying back in.
Except this one crab.
That crab scooped sand and moved in about eight inches from the hole.
And all I could think was that I’m that crab. Making things so much harder than they need to be.
And I’m that crab, who may have great reasoning about why the sand needs to be dragged that much further, but no one else understand.
But that’s the beauty of spiritual direction. It’s a place for me to unpack all of that and the stuff underneath it, stuff of the Spirit that I may not be aware of.
To uncover my inner crab and lay it bare before God.
It doesn’t take long being around me to know that I love Mr. Rogers. There are other saints who speak into my life as well, but this one has been with me from childhood. As a child of the 80’s, I have vivid memories of sitting down - at my house, at the babysitters, at my grandparents - to watch Mr. Rogers. It was as if he was speaking right through the television to me. As I grew up, my appreciation went even deeper, as I admired him as a fellow pastor who was commissioned to a ministry of presence.
I was recently sharing this with some folks in my congregation, only to have one recommend to me a podcast about Fred Rogers from iheart radio that I hadn’t heard yet - Finding Fred. The content is fantastic and I have recommended it to several people as well, but the commercials…
Oh, the commercials, friends. Now, I am an avid podcast listeners and I am used to having breaks in shows for advertisements. No problem. However, due to what I can only consider to be interesting editing choices, the commercials in Finding Fred, don’t come only at the commercial breaks, but in the middle of quotations, stories and even sentences.
For any of you who are used to the tone and pacing of Mr. Rogers, you know that it is slow and gentle, quiet even. The host of the podcast does this as well. So to have such a tenderness interrupted by Mario Lopez shouting (about cars maybe?) is jarring to say the least.
But isn’t that true of the contemplative life and posture as well? That we can be so deeply in that tender, gentle, quiet space that it seems jarring to step back into the flashes of light and sound in the world.
Who helps to invite you into contemplative spaces and protect them for you from the jarring noise and flashiness of the world?
I recently took part in a funeral service for a deceased life-member of the volunteer fire department. In fact, he was the first junior member and longest serving member in their history. Because he gave so much to his community, the family wanted to be intentional in the way they honored this - especially in the time traveling from the funeral home to the cemetery, about fifteen minutes away.
The oldest grandsons stood at attention atop the firetruck leading the processional. We slowly drove through the streets of a sleepy town, past the fire department where the man had served for sixty-three years. There were firefighters in their gear, standing at attention as a sign of respect for the family as well.
Then things went a bit sideways.
In order to get from the fire station to the cemetery, we had to enter onto a busier street. We had a processional of two fire trucks flanking about forty cars - headlights and four-way flashers on. And I saw something I had never witnessed before - cars cutting into the funeral procession.
Now, I have a bit of grace for this type of behavior when there is a processional on a major highway, especially because cars need to be able to enter and exit. But on a normal, busy street. No.
I think what set me off the most was the person who cut into the processional to hastily get to a staudium where a game wasn’t even being played that day.
I am someone who tries to rationalize the behavior of people in order to excuse it. I found myself thinking that maybe it was a stadium worker who was going to be late for their shift. But even that could not quell my feelings. Because the truth is, that we have lost respect for the funeral processional.
While we may teach people in drivers ed not to interrupt the funeral processional, we are characteristically, too impatient to live into this.
But the way that we cut into the funeral processional is also symptomatic of the greater degree that we treat grief in American society - wanting it to go faster so another persons grief is not an incovneice to us.
We need to honor the inconvience of the processional line because grief matters. The finitude of life matters. And death will come for us all. Therefore, as we bear witness to each other’s humanness, we need to be interrupted as a sign of respect for life and for death.
I was recently leading a discipleship group through Ruth Haley Barton's Sacred Rhythms when one of the participants stated that the chapter on discernment had changed her life. A bold remark!
She went on to explain how she never understood discernment before and it just seemed like a spiritual way to describe decision making, when really it is transforming who we are and how we depend upon God.
As we continued on in our discussion of discernment, I commented how I get a bit nervous whenever I hear someone attach the word "discernment" to something that benefits them and which they voice immediately.
You know what I'm talking about, right? The spiritualization of discernment for one's own personal gain, isn't really discernment.
That's one of the reasons that we need someone to walk with us through discernment. To help us sort our the ego from the Divine and to place ourselves in a posture of depending upon God.
Who are the people in your life who help you to discern?
Michelle is a Spiritual Director and End of Life Doula. She is the founder of Abide in the Spirit.
Proudly powered by Weebly