Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual direction’


It is amazing how the stories in Judges can sooo illustrate Gremlin-Saboteur work. It is the challenge as I have written about many times, rooting into yourself for that voice (s) that are tearing you down. Acting as the invaders in the land that chapter 3 opens with:

Now these are the nations that the Lord left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan. It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before. These are the nations: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. So the people of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And their daughters they took to themselves for wives, and their own daughters they gave to their sons, and they served their gods

-Judges 3:1-6 (English Standard Version)

One can descend into an argument around the veracity and historicity of the stories in Judges. But when one is looking at post-exilic or during exile time, these ancient stories are there to reassure those in bondage that there is a way out. A pathway back to the Holy, it uses war language, because if they are historic it probably was war, if not, it is a metaphor that one understood in exorcising demons from yourself. The battle. The fact that your God is superior to the other God because, well, your nation one the war.

I point this as a story that speaks to the internal battle for wholeness and authenticity, because the enemy (demon) is named. Just like when we deny the Gremlin within us, we name it, we create its image, we write out the lies that it tells that we believed or did keep us safe, a thanksgiving for that period (an honouring and an honesty about what was truly happening); then making the decision to win the war, destroy the Gremlin.

In a way, in the short term work, what is seen is a life coach in the form of the short judge exercises in getting Israel back on track to their whole beings:

7 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth.Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia. And the people of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10 The Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the Lord gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand. And his hand prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. 11 So the land had rest forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

-Judges 3:7-11 (English Standard Version)

The coach was in. The coach was asking the powerful questions to seek out the true self. In this story, it is a battle to root out and destroy that which was holding back. In a coaching session, the powerful questions will help you drill down away from fluff, to what your actual goal may be, what you are actually seeking, or rooting out the Gremlin that is holding you back.

I also love, how it points out that there is a time when the work is happening, and there is peace. Peace does not always mean static, it means we are doing what is working for that time to keep us healthy and moving forward, but life is a long game and new experiences bring new challenges. Those new challenges bring new supports into our lives:

 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done what was evil in the sight of the Lord. 13 He gathered to himself the Ammonites and the Amalekites, and went and defeated Israel. And they took possession of the city of palms. 14 And the people of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.

15 Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, and the Lord raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The people of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. 16 And Ehud made for himself a sword with two edges, a cubit[a]in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his clothes. 17 And he presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man. 18 And when Ehud had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who carried the tribute. 19 But he himself turned back at the idols near Gilgal and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And he commanded, “Silence.” And all his attendants went out from his presence. 20 And Ehud came to him as he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat. 21 And Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. 22 And the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not pull the sword out of his belly; and the dung came out. 23 Then Ehud went out into the porch[b] and closed the doors of the roof chamber behind him and locked them.

24 When he had gone, the servants came, and when they saw that the doors of the roof chamber were locked, they thought, “Surely he is relieving himself in the closet of the cool chamber.” 25 And they waited till they were embarrassed. But when he still did not open the doors of the roof chamber, they took the key and opened them, and there lay their lord dead on the floor.

26 Ehud escaped while they delayed, and he passed beyond the idols and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived, he sounded the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim. Then the people of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was their leader. 28 And he said to them, “Follow after me, for the Lord has given your enemies the Moabites into your hand.” So they went down after him and seized the fords of the Jordan against the Moabites and did not allow anyone to pass over.29 And they killed at that time about 10,000 of the Moabites, all strong, able-bodied men; not a man escaped. 30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest for eighty years

-Judges 3:12-30 (English Standard Version)

Survival. Gold. Riches. Prestige. Fame. These are all stumbling blocks that can take one out of affirming their true self, and into the realm of denial. It can create cycles of self-harm, perhaps addiction, or other behaviours or illnesses that mask one’s descent into the shadow self. When our body is out of tune with our whole being, when we are living in dissonance between our values, physical life, emotional life, and spiritual being it has huge effect upon us. It creates a bad holistic system as we are disjointed, it is like driving a high way in a Red River Cart, or perhaps a vehicle unbalanced with 2 of 4 tires being spare donuts.

Has there been a time when you know you are not being true to yourself?

This is the story of Ehud’s emerging as a judge. Israel was not being true to who they were. They had sold out to what was the here and now. The short cut to who they believed they were meant to be, not wanting to do the work to ensure all came along healthily and were cared for. The fast pace of change that loses many along the way, causes pain, and in the end it may look glorious, but it is like a Jenga tower balancing on the precipice of the bottom centre block.

Ehud is the judge of deep soul work or psychotherapy for the person, the one that helps you delve back into your true valued self and deal with the B.S. that has torn you down.

After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.

-Judges 3:31 (English Standard Version)

In case you need a refresher in relapse of the old life that was tearing you apart, here comes the sponsor Judge Shamgar, to aid you in cleaning up the new soul sludge.

This is the first three judges (life coaches, spiritual directors, sponsors, therapists) in discovering and renewing the authentic you when you slip back into the gremlin voices.

The stories of Judges remind us, that life is a process. It is about the process not perfection, for when we do reach the goal, we need to still believe in who we are.

 


It can be an unconventional practice. We used it in CALM class, last century, and in a few Bible College classes, the letter to future self writing back to who you are now. What would they say? What does your future life look like? It is a ploy in goal setting, and laying out a path.

Related image

From the live version of the song.

But what if we reversed the letter course in the process of discernment. Brad Paisley in my mind at times can be a modern day prophet in his music (I am sure Sr. Margaret appreciates the idea of music for spirituality as she always said singing was like praying twice). Paisley’s song Letter to Me at 17 (watch here) creates a different feeling.

It becomes a reflection on who made you who you are. The journey is more important than the destination. At many decades on you can see the pathways, the missed opportunities, the joys and the sorrows, and the making it through. It can be cathartic, it can be healing, it shows who you are in the journey.

Looking back on your life, what would you write to who you were back in high school? Back in College?

What letter rests on your soul?

To the emergent you.

 


I always loved having students (regardless of age from grade school up to doctoral students) and bringing up the topic of self-care. Then asking them to brainstorm what it means. I loved it because it allowed for being an iconoclast (shattering of icons).  See, institutes of academia, even those that support human services fields, treat self-care as a per-functionary checklist. That is the goal is that the next day you can arise and provide your piece-Spacely Space Sprocket- in the industrial complex of helping or life.

The checklist to keep the sprocket going is such things as eating healthy, getting enough sleep, taking medications/supplements appropriately and as prescribed, walks, working out, being active and you can imagine the rest or probably can recite it from memory. See though, that is like saying regular oil changes, cleaning air filters, filling tires, and putting gas in are self-care for your car. NOPE, that is simply maintenance to keep the device going. True, you don’t do those things your body will eventually stop working, but self-care is more. And yes, remember basic maintenance can change due to your life experience, holistic health, and life span development. It is never static.

Self-care is like the full tune-up and detailing of your car. It is what removes the negative energy, and rejuvenates the positive within you. It takes your being beyond simply putting in time, to innovating with time left.

Why have we shrunk it down to a per-functionary checklist? Simple, it lowers the base line, but does not address the deep rooted issue. If we just keep maintaining eventually we find escapism that feeds the negative and perpetuates and untenable cycle within our own lives and society.

 Simple Daily practice: 1) 3 things you are grateful for 2) Something new you learned; 3) something you have done today to re-energize/renew yourself. #selfcare #lifelonglearner #gratitude

Change your thought pattern. When you enter into that which recharges the positive energy and deep cleans out the sludge, be present with it. Let your phone/tech go off line. Be in the moment. What is it that when you are done you feel like “YOU”?

Is it time in spiritual practice? Writing? Reading? Hiking in the mountains? Biking? Being with your family? Enjoying a crappy cup of coffee in a truck stop in a deep conversation with one or two good friends? wood work? Knitting? Crafting? Travel…but travel where you can immerse yourself not just raise around touristy…some say it is volunteering, but remember that too can need a recharge practice.

(Caveat: Remember anything we do to recharge can also if we are not doing proper maintenance cause us to slip into deeper negativity for it can feel like a burden, it is the balance).

Today is a day to celebrate self-care. Know that it is different for each of us. Some will discover what resonates with them through trying different things with friends, some may discover it through support of mentors, life coaches, spiritual directors or clerics in conversations, others may already know.

Regardless, the choice with our time in life, is like our money, sometimes sacrifices need to be made to become a better more present, content you and escape the wheel of life that makes even basic service maintenance a chore. Stop making excuses. Carve out for what is important. That is what self-care is about, creating regular time for that which burns out the energy sludge of our souls, and lets the light shine back in.

Ready to burn some sludge?

What will you do to ensure self-care is part of your life?

13e51-selfcarewheel

0-10 Scale: 0 at centre, 10 at outer rim. Self rank yourself and see how round/balanced you are. Then challenge what you can do to move up one point towards 10, and set a deadline, tell a friend who you can follow up with and will encourage it to be actualized.

 


Stained glass window, depicting Christ the Kin...

Stained glass window, depicting Christ the King, created by Lucien-Leopold Lobin (1853–1892), Tours, in 1890. The notice at the center bottom window reads: Presented by the Brothers of the Third Order of Saint Francis, Wexford, A.D. 1890 – Very Revd Simon B. Hore, O.S.F. Guardian, Spiritual Director (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes I have posted into my archives my writing past, but I also think it is good for the reader, and possibly individual who would like to join me on a spiritual journey as their spiritual director or at the Rainbow chapel to know how I was formed. The following posts to the archives will be a series of list poems to reflect this formation process up until now.


Blood letting

Blood letting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been quite a unique few weeks in conversations and acting as a spiritual director to folks.  There is a fear of a word within Christianities, that word is T-H-E-O-L-O-G-Y…the study of God. Yet this is not a word we need to fear, for it is not about dead white academics making pronouncements to place God in a box.  It is not about absorbing all the historical contexts and socio-cultural facts (although these are fun, will make you a trivial pursuit champion, and can prove useful–but please people that is why we now have Google).

No, theology is quite a bit simpler and it is shown throughout the Gospels and Acts. It is a lived experience within the Holy Mystery and out of the Holy Mystery.  That is right, it is your lived experience, coupled with the Spirit coming to the word on the page and letting it speak into your situation.

Some good questions to guide your reflections are:

1) Do I know what this meant to the original audience? Is it relevant to my understanding today?

2) What do I feel when I hear/read this passage?

3) What do I know about this passage?

4) Why is this story preserved over 1700 years to come to us in the church today? What does it mean to my journey? To the church?

Then sit, and open yourself to a whole response to the words. This is the outgrowth of understanding that scripture is not a book, or multiple books under one cover, the living word is the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascenscion of Christ in every person’s daily life. The living word that created and is creating… so if this is scripture then is the Bible not only one aspect of Holy Scriptures? The story of God with her people, and his people with God? Yes.  So what are the other holy scriptures that breathe into and out of the living word?

Quite simply, your life is a gospel of Christ…

So what is the gospel according to you?