Well it’s here.
The end of summer vacation.
Back to work on Monday.
I actually think it’s time. I’m rested and rearing to go. We’ve had a good few weeks together as a family. We spent a whole week at Family Camp, staying in the tiniest little space you can imagine and loving it as our annual tradition. We did some day trips. Saw a musical. Visited with friends. Watched the Olympics.
It was a good break from the routine and a time for us to hang out together doing fun stuff.
But the routine is a good thing. I love my job, am thankful for the life I have, and look forward to getting back at it. Plus, vacation often means losing control of other routine things, like diet and exercise for example. Not that I’m a stellar example of either of these in the best of times, but holidays are much worse. I eat everything in sight and rarely do any stretching or exercise of any kind.
I’ve eaten so much ice cream, for example. Delicious, cold, wonderful, delightful ice cream. It’s oh so good yet oh so bad.
It’s time to slow that train down a little. I need to re-route my hunger to something more fulfilling and healthy.
So today I got up, did my yoga routine which I loved doing (even beat myself up a little for not doing it for a while), ate a smoothie, and began preparing my heart and mind for the routine.
As I’ve shared here before, my next goal in terms of training and education is to go through the process of becoming a ‘spiritual director’. It’s been a long time coming but it is finally almost here. In September I begin the 2-year journey of learning, listening to, and practicing the discipline of spiritual direction with the goal of becoming certified. I finally have my reading list and handed in my first assignment, which was an 8-page ‘spiritual autobiography’.
But what is ‘spiritual direction’? Well the first of my required readings is a book by Margaret Guenther called ‘Holy Listening-The Art of Spiritual Direction’. In it, she talks about hunger; not for ice cream, but for something deeper, richer, healthier, more fulfilling. “We are hungry, and we don’t know for what. We want something, but we can’t name it”.
In my work amongst folks on the streets, oftentimes drugs, booze, sex, gambling and any number of other things fill that void. I am no different. I just use things a little more socially acceptable, like ice cream, to fill a void. I believe, whether we acknowledge it or not, that we all hunger for the same thing; God.
The spiritual director acknowledges they too are on a journey to wholeness and are broken. They are not ‘fixers’, shrinks, counselors, or health care professionals. They are merely ‘Holy Listeners’. They are not ‘better’ or ‘holier’ than the person receiving direction. They have simply agreed to put their stuff aside and focus entirely on listening to the ‘person in the chair’.
I believe that God is calling me to ‘spiritual direction’ as part of my ministry. My new role as ‘mission strategist’ is now mostly focused on the staff of our shelters and I believe this will strengthen my ability to come alongside them in the journey as they do this rewarding yet extremely difficult work. In my weakness, I am being molded into much less the ‘fixer’ I always have tried to be, and more of a listener.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I am excited about what the next 2 years of training will bring to my work, and to me personally.