Our visit to Arizona and New Mexico in 2019 continues to nourish me spiritually, psychologically and emotionally. While while on retreat in northern Ohio last month, I recalled those experiences as a backdrop for integrating my soul journey I’ve traveled the past five years.
I’ve evolved and grown. I’m different and I see myself differently. I want to say I’m “better” but that seems to be a judgment of some kind which doesn’t always serve me well so I will leave the “better/worse” evaluation alone for now. I’m my harshest critic and sometimes I need to quiet that voice.
My retreat spiritual director provided the structure and the “container” I needed to do my soul work. My retreat time was like packing for trip to a place I didn’t know much like my packing for the journey by train to Arizona. I had to decide what to take and what to leave behind. On this retreat, I had to go through five years of spiritual, psychological and even emotional “stuff” I’d packed away. What should remain packed for unpacking later, what needed to be discarded and released, and what do I need for the upcoming journey.
I chose the photo above to share because I remember taking it in the morning atop a butte just at the start of sunrise. The light in some places is clear and bold. In other spaces it is a bit more shadowy and dark yet, illuminated. Sitting on top of that butte and watching the sunset the night before and sunrise the following morning was an incredible experience in a truly sacred place on this earth – Monument Valley, Arizona. It is the land of the Dine (Navajo) people. I can’t put into words what I felt, as if I were one with Place.
On retreat, I reconnected to Place through reflection with words like play, compassion, love, tenderness, joy, faith and honesty etched in terra cotta hearts I selected at the end of each companioning session. Those words prompted connections to other words, ideas, feelings, and in some cases, images which became SoulCollage® cards. They continue to feed me and nourish my soul much like the experiences of the desert southwest.
I grieve what I had to discard in the past five to ten years. I let go of who I was and the roles I was required to play. Some were good experiences, some not so good. I’ve packed away things some would ask “why are you keeping that, it wounded you?” “Because,” I tell them, “in the wounding is where I learned compassion, tenderness, honesty, faith and love. In the darkness, there is light.”
I feel I’m at the threshold of something I’ve longed for and dreamed of. I sense I’m emerging into a new way of living, and working in the world. Trust the process that voice inside me says. Trust in the slow work of God. I truly love what I do which in a nutshell is share the Light and Grace, help people see their own inner wisdom and journey with them a while by deeply listening and seeing who they are as spiritual beings.
The photo I chose to share with you is an image of what I feel is happening. The Light peaks over the horizon and illuminates the dark places making them less scary for me and more approachable and appreciating the beauty of the wisdom of the shadows trusting the slow process, the slow emergence of the Light. In a minute or two the scene changes ever so slightly and illuminates what needs to be discovered, learned, embraced or discarded.
I am reminded – again – of the letter Jesuit priest, Teilhard de Chardin wrote to his nephew.
“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our [God] the benefit of believing
that [God’s] hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”
Try a lectio divina with the words of Teilhard de Chardin. Read the letter. I encourage you to read it out loud. Simply read and take in what was written. Next, meditate or ponder what Teilhard de Chardin wrote to his nephew. Is there a phrase or word which stands out? Why? You may have some strong emotions about a word or phrase and that is okay. Now read the passage out loud again. Reflect and pray how might Spirit be inviting you to respond to that word or phrase that is impacting you. Do you feel encouraged? Challenged? Loved? Finally, read the letter out loud again and this time contemplate. In this step of the lectio divina process we contemplate and open ourselves to change and transformation of mind and heart. I like to add an additional step to lectio divina by looking at how we live our transformation in the world. Through lectio divina we experience Light, Grace and Love. It is important that we share what we have received from Spirit Source with others.
This blog is not intended to serve as individual spiritual direction. Spiritual direction and spiritual companioning are typically done face to face in a confidential setting or via Zoom or other virtual platform. If you would like to explore one on one spiritual companioning, group companioning, SoulCollage©, the Labyrinth or Reiki, please contact me. If you, your faith group, your church or your book club would like to know more about spiritual companioning, please contact me to schedule an informational workshop. In the meantime, my hope is that the photos and this blog serve as a pause in your day, food for thought, or just a reminder to breathe in and breathe out all that is holy and good. The Divine Milieu is all around us. Thank you all for prayers, vibes, positive energy and support.)