Shadows on the invitation.
I wish I could dress this up pretty, but I can’t:
I really don’t want to be learning this.
I’m pretty sure my last session with my spiritual director — the one in which I discovered the invitation to learn to carry stillness — could be categorized as the session in which I was at my least gracious.
It’s usually the case that when God and I connect, I respond immediately. Zero questions asked. This is because God has earned my trust. Over the long history we’ve shared these 15 years now, I’ve grown to trust him implicitly — because he has demonstrated himself again and again to be completely trustworthy. I’ve grown to want what he wants, even if it’s hard. It hasn’t, for a long time, been hard to say yes to what he’s asked.
This time, though, I could barely get there.
Round and round I went in that session with God and Elaine.
“I don’t want to do this,” I said. “I don’t want this to be the invitation. I don’t want to learn this. Please don’t let it be true. This sucks. No.”
Elaine, for her part, couldn’t stop smiling and clapping. She was exuberant at what she saw happening between God and me in that hour we shared. She was thrilled at the invitation for me to learn how to carry stillness. Her face was radiant about it all.
While she could have been self-conscious at how very different her affect was from my own, the difference between us did help me. It made a difference in my response to the whole thing to see this woman who has walked with me nearly five years — who knows my story and the landscape of my journey with God — responding the way she was.
I didn’t want the invitation, but she was bubbling over with joy about it.
I noticed her response, and it helped.
It gave me pause in my fight.
Still, it wasn’t easy to say yes.
Even today, it’s not easy. I’m still struggling to say yes. I still want the invitation to go away. I don’t want it to be true.
The truth for me in this? I want the quiet and calm of my previous existence back. I want the spaciousness. The room to breathe. The reflective, prayerful pace. That feels like life. And while I know it sounds privileged for me to say that, I had come to believe that way of being in the world was part of my vocational calling. I saw it as a key way I was meant to hold God and others in this world.
This moving from one immediate need of the moment to the next, one right after the other? It doesn’t feel like life. It feels compressed. Like I’m just surviving. Thin.
I don’t want to live a thin life. I want a life brimmed full of meaning.
Today, I don’t know how to get from here to there — to the place where even the stacked-full life of activity feels just as brimmed full of meaning as the slow, reflective pace. I’m not there, but I suspect someday I will be. I know all God’s invitations are good and right.
In the meantime, I’m grieving the loss of what was.