Thursday, February 11, 2010

Little Hints

A few days ago, Karen, who has also lost a beautiful young adult son, left a comment, kind of out of the blue, saying that if I give a retreat sometime, she'd like to come.

A friend from my home church and I, both products of the same spiritual direction program, are putting the final touches on a "retreat in daily life for busy people" as a Lenten offering for our church for the first week of March. We've gleaned only a few participants, but that may be a good thing for our pilot effort. I wrote the retreat months ago: a five day exploration into the wisdom of our lives. It follows the basic Ignatian pattern in abbreviated form, with each day given its own prayer focus: our engagement in creation, our participation in sin, God's call as experienced through the life of Jesus, the pain and loss of the crucifixion, and the joy and triumph of the resurrection. Those involved will be invited to spend half an hour a day in quiet meditation on suggested readings and questions and another half an hour meeting with a spiritual director to talk it over.

In the process of rounding up potential directors, I spoke with another man from our program last night who mentioned that he is in contact with a woman who is doing retreats for Katrina survivors, and another doing loss-and-grief retreats. Hmmm, I said, I might like to learn about that. I added that about the only thing I've imagine myself doing in Haiti is spiritual direction for survivors: all the focus now is on construction and medical care, but the grief will be all-pervasive for months. Of course, I don't speak French or Creole, so I'm not much use for Haiti, but perhaps another context, another day.

And then my mind started, completely unbidden, to formulate ideas for a retreat for suicide survivors.

Sixteen months ago, when a father in a suicide survivors' group stated that my faith must have taken a real hit, all I could do was nod yes and shake my head no, I have no idea how to tell you.

And here I am, imagining a retreat day for people in the kind of pain he and I share.

The next day, I received an email from my summer CPE advisor, telling me that if I want to apply for the residency program for next year, I need to get in gear; it's filling up. From a practical standpoint, not what I needed to hear right now. These (four!) snow days have been a great boon in terms of catching up on all that I put aside during the debacle known as January (husband's hospitalization, father-in-law's death, ordination exams), but I wasn't planning to squeeze in another set of essays in which I will have to address Josh's death and its aftermath.

And somewhere in there, I led Sunday morning worship and preached in my field education church on Sunday, and it all went very well, and I thought, How could I not do this? And then I went to a session meeting the next night and was reminded in a rather huge kind of way about all the administrative detail that goes into a pastor's work and thought, How could I do this? A question reiterated when I received a mailing from my home church the next day about a very expensive building repair project.

So . . . in a few minutes I am off to meet with a Presbytery person about The Future, and tomorrow I am meeting a friend who's a hospital chaplain (The Other Famous Hospital) to get her take on all of this.

And meanwhile, Jan Edmiston has pubished a post about spiritual direction, just to remind me that there are Presbyterian pastors who successfully pull off at least one version of what I envision.

So, said my own spiritual director, what is Jesus calling you to?


Carol said...

Methinks your calling is becoming more clear with each step/contact/interaction. And that you'll excel at whatever that call is.

artandsoul said...

How God shines forth from your post is the way in which all of life comes at you - full force - and you don't look away, you don't shrink from the future.

Yes, we take the hit. I mean that literally and figuratively. But those people (like yourself) who are called to lead, and who CAN lead, show us by your human acceptance in the day-to-day walk that we can do this.

When I curl up in a ball and say "no more" the only person I'm hiding from God's light is myself. And that's when I need it the most.

Your ability to keep it all out - in the light - and even wonder at the complexity and demands, well, that's just downright inspiring.

God bless your steps!


karen gerstenberger said...

I love reading about all of this. God is so obviously present and active! As you discern the next natural step in your calling, I pray for clarity, love and joy to lead you.

The awareness of "not-knowing" is, to me, one of the most attractive (and essential) qualities of a pastor. You have this quality, but you are also very skillful in many ways. He needs you, and He is equipping you day-by-day; His people need you. God bless you and all of your varied talents, abilities and perspectives as you listen for His direction!

Thank you for your kind and supportive comments. They do help.

Rev SS said...

Yes! What they all said. Especially how God shines in and through you and blessings on your discernment and next steps.

artandsoul said...

Oh, and I would definitely like to come to a retreat you lead.

Online is fine.

Real life would really rock.


Mompriest said...

Indeed. How could I not do this? and of course, How could I do this? Two sides of the same question.. Good question(s) to God nudges and pulls.

AutumnJoy said...

Praying with you and for you as you and God together discern the future - meaningful, rich use of your gifts honed in experience, faith, love and extraordinary grace. I'd like a prejudiced vote, but ministry, chaplaincy and/or retreats all beckon to your sharing God's love - a winner all three!

Magdalene6127 said...

The wonderful thing about answering God's call is this: it is unique to you, to your life, your gifts. Your answer doesn't have to look like anyone else's. It can be entirely new. It should be... it is yours alone.

Blessings on discerning this potent mixture of the Spirit's breath in your life!

Stratoz said...

let it unfold my friend, let it unfold.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

So much going on. These hints of your future are very exciting. It may take some time to come completely clear. I'll look forward to reading more about it as you gain discernment.