On the off chance you do not know, I am Catholic, though not a very good one. For just over a year I have had regular meetings with a diocesan priest whom I first met back in 1999. In Catholic-speak these meetings are called Spiritual Direction and it is an opportunity to discuss, from a spiritual perspective, what is going on in one's life and have some objective feedback and insights.
During our last meeting in May I talked about my overwhelming need to overhaul my life and how frightening and paralyzing that risk seemed. He challenged me with the idea of this being an adventure instead of just a risk; a journey I have the opportunity of taking. That thought altered the landscape. The decision became slightly less scary.
We meet today for the first time since May. I was happy to announce I had made my move and now "on the adventure." I also shared I am having difficulty keeping my fear in check each day, that my overall impatience in exacerbated by the fact that I have yet to discover the higher and better use of myself after five days of looking, and that those two things shake me at least once, sometimes more, per day.
We kicked around the idea of discerning a greater calling in life, and striking a balance between all of life’s aspects. Jason then proposed the idea of Surrender and Response. In short, it is about striking a balance between getting quiet and doing something. The first part deals with us turning ourselves over to a higher power and making space for our inner voice to help us identify what feels in tune with our inner desire of living a full life. The second part deals with us actively seeking those answers in the world around us by talking with others, getting involved in our passions and doing what we can to ensure we pull our weight.
The second part sounds much easier than the first. Taking action and trying new things has never been a challenge. With respect to the theme of this blog, I have yet to meet a personality type test or physical exercise I would not try as a means to understanding what fuels my fire and where I can be of best use.
The first part, however, does not go as well. I have difficulty sitting still and clearing my mind to make space for the divine. I have what is often referred to as "monkey mind" when it comes to these sorts of things. Jason knows this and challenged me with it. He suggested I be alone for a few days.
"I can be alone." I said.
"Yeah, but can you be alone while not doing anything?" he replied.
Ay, there's the rub. Fr. Jason invited me to take three days with just me, a notebook, and a pen, and write anything and everything that comes to mind. It does not matter the topic, how long I write, or even the quality. Just put it on paper. Disconnect from the world - no internet, no newspapers, no cell phone; and to the extent I can, avoid contact with other people. Be alone.
This, my friends, will be difficult. This will test me. Whether or not it opens any doors or results in any epiphanies remains to be seen. But knowing how uncomfortable I am at the mere thought of it, it becomes something I should try.
But, as Yoda counseled: "Do or do not. There is no try."