Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spiritual direction

I met with a lovely lady this week, a spiritual guide who is Catholic, named Cecelia. I wanted to tell you how it went!

I felt like we clicked right away. Even the drive to her house was almost choreographed -- it's hard to describe. I had the sense of where to go, and which road was hers (trust me, this never happens to directionally-challenged me!).

She opened and closed our session with really heartfelt prayers that spoke to me, and to the God in me, I suppose you'd say. Her opening prayer was about how hard it can be to recognize Jesus even when he is so close, as throughout the resurrection appearances. Her closing prayer brought God so close that I sort of snorted with a nervous, stifled laugh -- talk about embarrassing! She was praying about how I was longing for a more intimate relationship with God. At that moment, I had the strong urge to shout out, "Never mind, God! Just kidding!! I was actually just leaving, you know ... Don't mind me, ha ha ..." You get the idea.

I liked that she does not feel the need to conform to any certain tradition, or practice. She said that she could give me all these reference books on how to pray, or to be in contemplative prayer, but actually I needed to find my own way to do it. The main point being to be completely present to God, and to invite God to dwell with me in that moment, and the next, and so on. She also said that I didn't have to read an entire spiritual book if it didn't all speak to me, that I could pick and choose the parts that worked for me -- now, this is heresy indeed! I always have felt the slavish obligation to read books cover to cover, perhaps in deference to the author. Many times, I've failed to read a whole book, but then the guilt of that experience weighs me down.

She said something else that I think was so wise, and I used this idea in my prior post as well: the mind cannot comprehend times that we are actually in communion with God. So for the mind, it can seem like a blank moment -- it simply does not register. That is why it requires a lot of patience and perseverance to meditate, or to practice contemplative prayer. Yes, this makes sense to me! I am still too much in love with my mind, very attached to it, and it does lead me astray all the time.

I think Cecelia is very similar to me in some of her struggles with her faith walk, but also she will be able to rebuke me and offer guidance with compassion. She already did give some nudges. Lots of food for thought. Cecelia grew up in Mexico City, and she has a warm and generous spirit that reminds me of a couple of other friends who also have close ties to Mexico.

She also mentioned Buddhism several times. If I had any doubts about her, this was the clincher!

So at the end, she said that she wanted us both to pray and reflect on this meeting before scheduling the next (in a month). This is what I am doing, though I feel a conviction that this is the path God has chosen for me. I don't make that statement lightly. I know it is a powerful and fearsome thing to say that God is leading me in this certain direction, and I am reminded that such a statement links me to crazy religious fanatics out there -- the jihadist terrorists, for instance.

So I have to be so careful, making that statement. Yet I feel this clarity, which is a lovely and somewhat rare thing in my life. I think Cecelia has the gift of clarifying God's actions in my life. What a wonderful blessing to be able to do that for someone!

Still, I wait to see what the upcoming days will reveal.

I should add the purpose of having a spiritual guide, as I understand it now. A spiritual guide is someone who will discuss your spiritual concerns with you, and help you make decisions about your spiritual path. This person is a mirror for your spirit and can help reveal the actions of Christ (or the divinity of your choice) in your life. Cecelia says she is unable to discern, on her own, how Christ is active in her life. She requires a spiritual guide to point it out to her.

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