Hop on over to here if you want to go on the next adventure.
Got the Moves Like
If there weren’t some kind of wrestling match going on in my spiritual life, I wouldn’t know what to do.
I’ve always got some interior question pinging around my soul-insides like an old-fashioned pinball machine… setting off lights / bells/ whistles and racking up new high scores.
A new friend recently labeled me Habitually Disruptive because apparently I ask a lot of questions.
Him: I bet you were in the principal’s office frequently as a child.
Him: And I’m guessing it was because you got your work done quickly and were bored.
I still get called to the principal’s office regularly. Some things never change. Others do too much. I digress.
Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?
So the latest wrestle: Should I change direction?
After many months and more tears than that, I feel like I have finally come through the fire. I actually had a moment in quiet prayer not long ago, when I said out loud: I think I’m done with all that! I think I’ve let it all go.
The pain… the heartache… the stress. It washed off my body in torrents. Such relief.
But… it wasn’t enough to let it all go.
I just learned the other half of that lesson this morning: I have to embrace what is to come.
Should I change direction?
Yes. There comes a point in life when all of us must change direction. The reasons are as vast and unique as each individual person.
In response to my specific question about change in direction, the answer is NO. But the answer to my larger question about change in direction is YES! [ More on that later.]
In order to successfully change direction, I will need to welcome it with open arms / trust that it is God’s plan for me / and then get my butt in gear and make it happen.
The Bottom Line
Any kind of change in life is a two-part lesson.
Let go of what has been.
Embrace what is to come.
The place-in-between those two actions is called liminal space. It’s the gray area where you do your best wrestling. Physically and emotionally and spiritually.
Sometimes we stay in liminal space for a long time. Sometimes it only feels like eternity. Liminal space is tough. But if you don’t faithfully do your time there, you never fully get to the point of the Necessary Embrace. That is the gift of liminal space and what it teaches.
All That Said
I am changing direction.
This is the final post here on SchoolOfDisciples.com.
I will be migrating over to a new blogsite in the near future. When I get set up and ready to go, I’ll put one last link here that will let you come find me if you like.
Let me say what a joy and a privilege it has been to walk this journey with you. Your thoughtful comments have given me strength and insight that has challenged me to grow deep and wide.
I hope I have given you the same. That was my goal all along… that we might walk together in the liminal spaces of life… talking and laughing along the way.
I am making the Necessary Embrace.
I hope you will too.
There is a necessary light that is only available through darkness, the darkness that comes in those liminal spaces of birth, death and suffering… There are certain truths that can be known only if we are sufficiently emptied, sufficiently ready, sufficiently confused or sufficiently destabilized.
By Richard Rohr, OFM
And let me tell you… sufficiently any-of-those is not too fun.
I have just come through being sufficiently destabilized. In fact, I’m going to title this chapter in life as The Great Destabilization. At least for now, the earth beneath my feet has temporarily stopped moving. And I am Oh! so grateful.
But the place I now stand is foreign. All of the previous familiarity has been shaken away.
All in all, it was a good cleansing. What needed to go is gone. In its place appeared consolation which gave way to a deep peaceful glow in my soul. The pain is relieved and the future feels bright with possibility and promise.
What does destabilization look like, you ask? Great question.
It’s when all of your plans get knocked off-kilter by unexpected encounters. When the electricity in your spirit blows a breaker and you fumble around looking for a candle that isn’t there. When so much chaos gets thrown at you but you don’t how to juggle twenty different things at the same time.
Destabilization happens when you surrender your will to God.
Change Can Be Good
Whether it comes unexpectedly or you invite it intentionally, destabilization is dangerous. It changes everything. But change can be good. If we seek to make it good.
Destabilization has taught me some great lessons of late.
A degree doesn’t change the world. People do.
It’s not necessary to try and tame chaos.
Eventually the answers do come.
Small towns heal deep wounds.
Art isn’t art unless it’s shipped.
Too many options = Not shipping.
Yep. In that order.
The Roundabout Way
A great quote to end this musing:
God did not let them take the direct road, although that was the nearest way… God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness.
Apparently, there was a quicker way but… it probably wouldn’t have been as much fun.
Addendum: If you look that verse up online you will likely find another translation that adds this line…
For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return…”
It was the “duh” what got me.
Me: I’m not really a counselor. I’m a youth-minister-disguised-as-a-counselor… what you’re asking me to to do is exactly what I’ve been doing all these years… which is youth ministry. I suspect you knew that would happen from the beginning.
Him: … duh.
Yea. Duh. How could I have been so clueless?
I mean I wasn’t clueless. I knew what all this would be about. I knew You were calling me to work with kids just in a different setting. But when the whole youth ministry idea reincarnated for school, it struck me as profound. In a word, clueless.
And now I wonder what else I have missed. How many more times will You need to knock me upside the head? When will I finally get it?
Today, after chatting with another handful of students, I felt utterly and completely powerless. Totally. Helpless.
I ask You: What is my purpose for being here? I can’t fix anything. I’m not even sure I have anything to offer… except maybe an open ear and a sense of caring. Is that enough?
On our evening walk, I thought silently:
Maybe I’m not supposed to fix anyone or anything.
Maybe I’m supposed to change the system.
Even harder. Systemic change. Adaptive change. Bigger / more profound / harder than technical change. Duh.
I am powerless to affect real change in these kids’ lives… and yet, every one of them is precious and valuable and needs whatever attention I can give. Maybe to show that someone cares enough to ask the question “How can I help?” is enough. Maybe that’s enough. I don’t know. I can only step into another day and see what comes.
The further into the Mystery You pull me, the more complex become my questions… and the more enigmatic become Your answers. So… constantly I wrestle with a new meaning and purpose.
In One Year
A prisoner was brought before the king.
“Tomorrow your sentence will be carried out,” the king said. “Do you have one last wish before you die?”
The prisoner replied, “If you will give me one year from this day, I will teach your horse to sing. If I fail then I will go willingly to the gallows.”
The king was skeptical and reluctant, but seeing as he had always desired a singing horse, he agreed.
When the prisoner related the story to his cellmate, his friend stood stunned in disbelief. “You are so foolish!” he said. “How do you expect to teach a horse to sing?”
The prisoner replied, “I have no idea. But many things can happen in a year.”
A friend told me this story the other day to illustrate his point: Many things can happen in a year.
In other words… Don’t stress about it Elaine!
Okay okay… hold your horses there, buddy. [get it? horses… :)]
Took me back to some lessons from earlier in the spring… a one-liner from a John Shea lecture: Easy ways are not of God.
John Shea is the kind of theologian who would use the horse story to teach a lesson… maybe he has.
As I move into a new phase of life, I am having trouble letting go of the old phase. I want to let go of the bad things, but keep hold of the good things.
Over the Labor Day weekend, I ended up at one of my favorite places in Colorado… the Trappist monastery in Snowmass.
Abbot John’s homily about humility scraped at the shadowy recesses in my false self. Tears rolled when the guitar-monk began the Communion song: Take Lord, receive all my liberty… [you chose that song just for me, right?]
I have experienced many powerful moments in this stone chapel… though none more profound than this one.
It has probably happened to you as well… that slow-motion feeling of God sitting right beside you and talking into your ear clear as day.
“I’m asking you to go this way now. It will mean letting go of what you have known and hoped for.”
Tears… tears… tears.
I open my eyes wondering who said that, and the first image I focus on is Mary with the Ruby Slippers. [I have written about her many times. She also speaks to my soul.] For the first time, I notice that she is standing on the snake.
Easy ways are not of God.
The deeper into the Mystery we walk, the more complex become the questions and the more challenging are the answers. The steps only get bigger.
Perhaps it is the same for the Ironman triathlete. You train and train and train… and in the final hour of the race, the remaining steps are huge and draw all strength from your resolve to finish.
But something in that competitive nature won’t let you stop. If you have to crawl on hands and knees, the end-line will be conquered.
I know the feeling.
Go this way now. Let go of all you have known and hoped for. I will provide.