Since last Tuesday I have vacillated between being part of the world and retreating from the world.
Many of you have sent me your own personal reflections about the election results or articles or links to what others have written. I have read them all, but have chosen to respond minimally. I have stayed off Facebook and have not spent much time with other media.
Instead, I have spent longer than usual time in morning meditation and prayer time, and I have considered carefully my activities. I have weighed which ones will restore equilibrium, which ones will bring clarity and clear the space for new insights, and which ones will further exhaust and bring additional muddle to a puzzled mind.
Here's what I have come to understand so far, although "understand" may be far too optimistic of a word.
* As I try to analyze what I am feeling and experiencing, I remember other times my body and my spirit have responded this way. At first I thought this need to be still and quiet reminded me of times when loved ones have died, but that is not quite accurate. Instead, this is the way I have felt when death has been approaching, when I have waited for the event of death. Once the death has become known, a reality, I have moved into action, doing what needs to be done. I am not at an action stage quite yet.
Spending time in solitude, in silence is the way I stay grounded for whatever comes next, for whatever way I need to act. Wrapping myself in solitude is a way to save up for days when tasks and activity dominate. Staying true to the spiritual practices that sustain me undergirds my relationship to God when what I believe feels shaky.
As a nation we are approaching a kind of death in this assault on a vision of whom we hope to be, but have not yet achieved. I want to respond authentically, based on the person I was created to be. Therefore, I have needed more time than usual to listen to the invitations in this time of uncertainty. These are days of discernment.
* Sunday mornings we go to church, and it is always good. But today, we needed to be there. We needed not only to hear the call of God as expressed in the sermon, the prayers, the hymns, the readings, but we also needed to be in community. We needed to hug and to stand together. I needed to come up for air, to poke my head out from the covers. Yes, I cried almost before crossing the threshold, and the waves of tears continued, but I was not alone. Everything seemed poignant, from the prayer of the day, which included these words, "with you as our ruler and guide, we may live through what is temporary without losing what is eternal," to the baptisms of two baby girls, Penelope Rose and Lucy Mae. Metaphorically, at least, we all squeezed a baby, and we needed that.
Once again I learned how important it is to balance my alone time with community.
* Am I any clearer about next steps? Maybe. I know I will continue meeting with spiritual direction clients, leading spirituality groups, and writing posts for this blog, but I will also continue working on my spiritual memoir, for I hope my wrestling with the movement of God in my life may add to greater awareness of the working of the sacred, the divine, the holy. But I am also determined to soften my own rough edges, the judgments I make without thinking and to fill-in the blanks where kindness is needed.
And I know I need to DO more to be with people who are in need in some way. I am going to attend a meeting this coming weekend of congregations concerned about what this election might mean for those who already feel oppressed, and I have decided I will say "yes" to an invitation to visit homebound members of our congregation during the upcoming holidays. Other ways will unfold.
Many of us in retirement age struggle to find a purpose for this stage in life. Others become self-absorbed, saying, "it is someone else's turn." Well, I am here to challenge you. There is more than enough to do, and each of us has gifts to offer. If you have been holding back, get out there. Share your openness, your wisdom, your gifts.
This is a longer post --and more rambling--than what I usually write, but my heart is full, and I am grateful for your willingness to sit with me. I sit with you.
Where are you being led now? I would love to know.