I was meeting with my peer supervision group of spiritual directors, a group of wise women whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. And I was trying to describe my life at the moment.
Being an extrovert, I often don’t know how I’m doing or what I’m thinking until I start to process out loud. My description went something like this: “I feel like I’m ping-ponging through life. I’m just bouncing from one event to the next, without really preparing. Like this talk I have to give on death and dying at the seminary on Thursday, I haven’t even prepared for it, but I’m not worried about it. This is just not like me!”
One of the wise women asked, “How was your life different in the past?”
“I would have written an outline, and every word of the talk, and have memorized it. I’m used to planning my life, not just bouncing through it. But, strangely, I don’t feel guilty; it’s actually kind of freeing. I’m enjoying my quiet time in the morning and my yoga, and each day, I ask: ‘Lord, what’s most important for me to do today? Give me your eyes to see. Show me how to love well.’ It feels different. It feels like life — when you get better at it.”
All the wise women stopped me there and made me write that last phrase down, “Life, when you get better at it.”
Maybe I’m growing up. Maybe I’m finally learning what’s important. I don’t need to spend so much time stressing, preparing, outlining and rehearsing my life. I just need to be attentive to the spirit of the divine and keep my eyes open.
This month I was invited to a healing party. If you’ve never heard of one you’re in good company. I think my friend just made it up. She is one of the wise women mentioned above. She sent out actual invitations, and of the eight of us that came, most had physical healing needs. She had a liturgy printed out, along with an order of service. Each person shared and was prayed for in turn. My friend had even made some special essential oils so we could be anointed. It was short, sweet and amazingly lovely. I don’t know what all the outcomes were. I know I felt loved and received a word about “gentleness,” which I am pondering.
I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, I pick a word, or phrase, to pray into for the New Year. This year I’m picking the word “Gentleness.” I want to be kind and gentle to myself. I want to be kind and gentle to others. I want to live life – like when you get better at it.
The world does not need more strident, yelling, shiny, evangelicals. The world needs gentler, loving, kind Christians. As Dr. Patrick Fung said at a recent Urbana convention, “God is not looking for spiritual giants, but rather for those willing to carry spiritual lamps that shine for Him.”
In 2016 may my spiritual lamp shine with gentleness, hope, and love. I want to do life like I’m getting better at it.
What is your hope, phrase or special word for the new year? If you share it, we can pray for each other this year.