Friday, March 30, 2012

Failing to learn redux...

Tonight we're going to see Joan Osborne - one of Di's favorites - arranged by my "brother from another mother" Hal's radio station.  They were offering some seats to listeners and my honey jumped on it - Hal responded - so we're going.  And it is just what the doctor ordered because I can feel my inner bitch starting to rise to the surface:  it has been too long without a weekend break from ministry. 

You see, one of the things I've learned from some of my failures is that every 6-8 weeks, I have to get outta Dodge for some completely down-time - away from church and ministry - just to rest and renew.  Without that rhythm - engaging and retreating, action and contemplation, work and play - I get resentful.  Used to be that I wouldn't own this resentment until it bubbled over in mean-spirited and/or inappropriate ways - and then I would flee to my car for a 2-3 hour driving jag.  My soul was telling me to "get away and rest," but as is often the case with sacred wisdom, it was upside-down - and I didn't have eyes to see.  For as they say in AA, "wherever you run to you always take yourself with you," so running away never worked.  I needed a break, a real time of renewal not simply an  interruption in m stress.

So, after years of living in this trap, I learned the following rhythm for keeping me grateful and grounded in ministry:  every day needs some quiet and reflective time (and a little walking makes things better, too) - every week needs a Sabbath break - and every 6-8 weeks I need to spend 2 days totally away from all things church with my sweetheart. My spiritual director in Cleveland, Fr. Jim O'Donnell, used to call this the oasis rhythm born of Charles de Foucauld.

Eugene Peterson explains it like this:

The suggestion to DO something is nearly always inappropriate (for persons in spiritual direction) because most people seeking direction are troubled over some disorder or dissatisfaction in being - not doing... The sense of definition provided by clear-cut action provides tremendous satisfaction. But there is no growth in the spirit, no development into maturity. (And) pastors are particularly imperiled in this area because of the compulsive activism, both cultural and ecclesiastical, in which we are immersed simply by being alive at this time in history. It takes wary and persistent watching to avoid falling into this activist trap.

Jesus said:  Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.  Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it... and I will show you the unforced rhythms of grace.

Thank God I've learned to listen to my inner bitch - and after Holy Week there will be some quiet and away time to rest in the unforced rhythms of grace.

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thanks be to god...

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