Looking Back: 12 Questions For Deeper Reflection From 2017

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Questions For Deeper Reflection

It can be helpful to look back over the past twelve months. We remind ourselves of our experiences and the questions and insights we have gained.

What are the experiences and ideas you remember most clearly from 2017? Are there insights or questions which have grown in you during the last twelve months? Who are the people who have inspired you this year? Are there books or films or conversations from 2017 which will make lifelong differences in you?

Each year I check to see what is reflected in my rearview mirror. What are the questions or insights from 2017 which spark our ongoing deeper reflection?

 1 Moving Forward by Standing Still

We drive ourselves to move forward. Our economy, our culture are based in growing, making progress, moving forward.

It can be easy for us to miss, or dismiss, the essential significance of standing still.

Life is not about being driven to work harder. Life is about moving forward by standing still.

When will we move forward by standing still this week?

How much time will we be able to spend standing still today?

 2 Spiritual Life is Like Rain After a Long Drought

Spiritual life can be unpredictable. Just when we think we have things sorted out, when we think we understand, everything changes.

We think life is going well, then it does not rain for a few years. It feels like spiritual life has dried up and blown away.

Are you in a season of spiritual drought, or spiritual storms?

When have you been shaken to your spiritual core?

 3 Leadership Begins in Stillness

The first step toward leadership for me is finding the stillness within myself.

There was a long time when I was sure it was as chaotic in me as it seemed everywhere else. I was working as hard as I could to lead; whenever I started to rest, I became physically ill.

Stillness appeared to make me sick.

Discovering a still place in the middle of the tumult took a lot of hard work.

Where does our inner stillness lead us?

Who do you recognize as leading from inner silence?

 4 Is Church Just For Old People?

Churches often seem to be a lot like museums. Some people wear robes at church, apparently because people started wearing them a long time ago. We use music which was written a long time ago and repeat old words like they were magic. Even church buildings seem to be old, filled with dark corners and old stained glass.

Questions about why things are the way they are usually get answered “We have always done it that way.”

Churches are often protective of traditions. Why would we want anything to be different?

How will you find people with whom you can talk honestly this week?

Where is your place of deep, sacred power?

 5 Making Friends With Our Frustrations

Frustration ignites our reaction to either fight or flee. Some of us tend to explode in the direction of their frustration. Other people try to ignore what is frustrating them and hope it will go away.

Spending time with monks has introduced me to another choice. In addition to fight or flight, we can make friends.

Who is the most frustrating leader you know?

How will you make friends with your frustrations this week?

 6 Spiritual Life is Not a Spectator Sport

Spiritual life can feel a lot like sports. People have their team loyalties. They gather together whenever their is a game to watch and cheer for their team. We all want to think we are on the winning side, that our team will prevail in the end.

Some of us do not really understand the game but go along sometimes for the tailgating.

How is spiritual life living in you today?

Where will you go beyond the ordinary, the expected this week?

 7 Finding the Best in Other People

Ironically, recognizing it was not necessary to be perfect helped me find the best in myself.

As the benefits of imperfection took root in me I came to appreciate imperfection in other people.

I came to understand the expectation of perfection was a significant obstacle to finding the best.

How do we find the best in other people?

What would you describe as the best in you?

 8 Transforming Pain into Wisdom

Spiritual life transforms our pain into wisdom without necessarily taking it away.

As we give our permission for spiritual life to work in us, or even cooperate with it, we are transformed. We often think about spiritual life in terms of growing or developing strength.

How is spiritual life transforming pain into wisdom in us this week?

Who helps you with the work of transforming pain into wisdom?

 9 Getting Out of Our Own Way

It is as if we have already decided we are not worthy of sacred stillness. We apparently have a carefully constructed set of defenses to keep us away from its power.

Do we really have time to sit still right now?

Our challenge is not actually with sacred stillness. We long to be surrounded by its power and immersed in its love for us.

The challenge for us is getting in our own way.

How will we get out of our own way this week?

When will we take time to listen to sacred stillness today?

10 Living on the Edge of the World

It is not necessary for us to choose our next step. We stand, leaders and monks looking over the rest of the world. We do not need to take another step.

Here we spread our wings and soar away.

How are you living on the edge of the world today?

Where have you chosen to go from here? What is your next step?

11 Sustaining Curiosity

Spiritual life is both intimate and immense. We practice spiritual curiosity and are drawn to discover spiritual life we may have missed.

We open our eyes and are filled with sustaining curiosity.

How are you sustaining curiosity this week?

What questions have you asked today?

12 The Week at the End of the Year

We each have our reasons to avoid or delay starting something new. Now is the perfect time to look those reasons in the eye, deal with them, and begin.

We open our eyes and become aware there is no beginning and no end.

What beginnings does the end of the year bring to us this week?

How can what we complete this week be new beginnings for us today?

Who can even imagine the questions and insights waiting for us in 2018!

[Image by Infomastern]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.

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