As I’ve shared before, I’m currently enrolled in the third year of a three-year “Certificate in Spiritual Direction” program at St. Thomas University, in Miami Gardens, FL. Within a few short months, I’ll be “certified” to offer spiritual direction as an official part of my ministry.
Being a spiritual director is a something akin to being a guide and companion on another’s spiritual journey. As with any journey, it’s often nice to have a fellow-traveler. Sometimes, the Spiritual Director points the way, having walked the path before. Sometimes, the Spiritual Director points out the more subtle details of the journey, which might otherwise go unnoticed. Often, the Spiritual Director is simply a supportive and interested companion, coming along for the ride.
As I was preparing for this evening’s class, I came across this line in today’s assigned readings,
“The major premises that underlie Spiritual Direction are disarmingly simple, namely, that God is active in our lives, constantly taking the initiative; that God’s actions are unrelentingly loving; that we can experience these actions of God, can sense the movements of God’s Spirit, and that we can respond to these movements either with willingness or with resistance.” Mary Ann Scofield
God IS active in our lives.
We CAN experience God’s actions.
We CAN sense the movement of God’s Spirit.
We CAN respond to God’s movement in our lives with either willingness or resistance.
As a follower of Jesus, a spiritual practitioner, a pastor, and a spiritual director in training, I think about these “premises” a lot. I agree with the author that these premises are “disarmingly simple.”
And, yet, I wonder how often the most devout spiritual believers are aware of God’s activity in their lives? Though I work for God, pray daily, and devote significant time and energy to spiritual matters, I’ll be the first to confess my attention is often NOT on God, or God’s action in my life. Too often, my attention is on everything BUT God. Like most people, I must intentionally pause, and pay attention, to be aware of God’s presence and activity, in and around me. Even then, more often than not, what God is or isn’t doing is shrouded in mystery.
“Disarmingly simple,” isn’t always so simple!
If that’s true for devoted followers, what about everyone else? What about the casual Christian? What about those who espouse no spiritual beliefs, at all? I can’t help but wonder, and even worry, to what degree God is simply ignored, to our individual and collective detriment.
Just in the few hours I’ve been awake this morning, the news is talking about Trump’s impeachment investigation, the 2020 election, and the war in Ukraine. Social Media is consumed in the weekend’s news and scores. I read material about the devastating effects of human-caused global warming. But, there’s no mention of God.
Whose paying attention to what God is doing? Anyone?
Few of us deny the power of the earth’s gravity, or the body’s need for the oxygen we breathe. You are a recipient of both, even as you read this. But, really, when was the last time you thought about, or gave thanks for, gravity or oxygen? When was the last time you acknowledged gravity holding your feet to the ground, or the oxygen filling your lungs? Or, do you, like most, simply take gravity and oxygen for granted?
So too, I suspect, with God. Many, if not most, acknowledge God is real. Some may even believe or hope God is working in and around us. But, how often to do we stop what we’re doing, pay attention, to sense the Spirit moving, and consciously engage? Truth be told, I strongly suspect, not many, and not very often.
Thankfully, I don’t have to pay attention to gravity or oxygen to enjoy their benefits. But, ought I be so casual toward God? I can ignore gravity and oxygen, and never float away or stop breathing. But, if God can be resisted, how much more can God simply be ignored? And, to what end?
What if we paid more attention, more often, to God’s presence and movements? What if we were more aware? What if we more frequently, consistently, intentionally paused to acknowledge God’s presence? What if we trained ourselves to be more sensitive and aware of the Spirit’s moves within ourselves and others? And, what if, aware of God’s presence and movement, we respond accordingly?
Why not, since this is the end of my blog, try it now.