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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.