Monday, October 28, 2013

in clover: a (not so) rare experience

A few days ago, I realized that the Facebook page that supports this blog, In clover, was at 196 "likes."   I recall the day the page reached 100 likes, which was very exciting indeed.   It has been at least one year to reach 100 more.  This blog and the In Clover page are growing....slowly, slowly growing.  On a good day, I do my best not to focus on how many or how few subscribers and "likers" there are.  Instead, as author Stephen Pressfield said in a recent interview with Oprah, I attempt to focus on simply putting my "ass in the chair."  In front of a computer.  Now, type!   It's been hard to do that lately but here I am again, typing.  The thing that allowed me to start again was author Anne Lamott's reflection that the starting place is almost always a "shitty first draft." 

Now that I have graduated and I have an opportunity to see as many directees as the Spirit sends my way, my spiritual direction practice is also growing....slowly, slowly growing.    As far as paid work, I now have four "directees"  that I meet with quite regularly.  I have also been priviledged to lead or co-lead a few retreats for other organizations for pay and I am looking forward to offering my own brand of weekend retreats soon.  As far as unpaid ministry, I continue to work weekly with the group called Cultivating Mindfulness at Central Christian Church.  We practice meditation, mindfulness exercises, contemplative group engagement and group spiritual direction.  Cultivating Mindfulness, now in it's fourth year,  has recently experienced some exciting growth, inviting us to move into a larger room at the church for our time together.

If I am honest, I will admit that I am both encouraged and discouraged at the same time.  For one thing, people are really, really busy.  Most folks have little time for this kind of work.  But that biggest barrier I notice is that many people have never heard of "spiritual direction" before.  And yet, I hear many, many people expressing themselves in ways that leaves me certain that they crave the experience of spiritual direction.  The problem is that most us  lack the language to express it.  Because we've never heard of it.  

And often, after you try to explain it, folks wonder if it's something really strange....

....or why in the world you would pay someone to listen to you.   

Or they completely misunderstand and think that a director will tell them what to think, believe or do.  That either makes them very uncomfortable or very comfortable but either way, it's a misunderstanding of what direction is. 

Recently, while perusing my newsfeed on FaceBook,  I noticed  Parker Palmer's facebook status immediately.  (I also noticed that Parker Palmer has 29, 322 likes on his FaceBook page)

"When was the last time someone asked you an honest, open question—one that invited you to reflect more deeply on your own life, asked by a person who did not want to advise you or "fix" you but "hear you into speech," deeper and deeper speech?

For most of us, that's a rare experience. In our culture, we tend to ask each other questions that are "fixes" or advice in disguise. "Have you thought about seeing a therapist?" is NOT an honest, open question!

But when we share a problem with someone who wants to listen and knows how to ask honest, open questions... Now we have a chance to learn from our own inner teacher, to tap into own inner wisdom."   

Palmer is dead on with this quote.  He has articulated eloquently the importance and the beauty of participating in spiritual direction.   This "rare experience" is what happens in a spiritual direction session.  

It doesn't have to be such a rare experience. 

It seemed important to me that I share that with you.

There you have shitty first fifth draft.  



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