Beginning the Work Again :: The Integration of Both Parts

Patriotic homemade quilt.

Before I left for the conference, I wrote this post, which detailed the importance of rest in the formation and healing process as well as my general approach to making intentional room in my life for “the work.” 

While I was at the conference, I also came to acknowledge the importance of letting both parts of my journey show up at the same time — even if it feels really messy. 

It started with what felt like an anthem.

Several people in my life, both before and during the conference, said, “This new journey will even further qualify your work as a spiritual director. You’re being with the pain. You’re deepening your empathy and your capacity to be with others in their pain.”

When I mentioned how disappointed I was to be in this new place while attending the conference after having expected to be in a wholly different place for it, others looked at me and encouraged me, in complete sincerity, to be exactly where I am. The message I received from them was, “People wouldn’t want you to be other than who and where you truly are.”

I’m thankful for that.

Then, when I met with my spiritual director, Elaine, on Monday evening, we talked about this concept, too, and she framed it in terms of a thread that’s part of a larger quilt. This new part of my journey is a thread on the quilt of my life, and right now I’m often attending to that piece of thread and working it through the expanse of the tapestry, helping it become a part of the whole. And when I’m attending to that threading work, it has my full attention. 

But sometimes I pull back and look at the whole quilt at once. When I do that, the thread is still there, a part of the whole, but there are other parts there, too — lots of them. The thread would be anemic if existing on its own, and the grander quilt would not be whole if that particular thread weren’t taking its specific place on the tableau. 

As much as it’s important to designate specific times and places for attending to “the work,” it’s also important, I’m learning, to let the “current threading work” be a part of who I am — the whole tableau — when I’m just going about my day. 

This is one way integration happens. By letting it all be present and true.

What is this notion of integration like for you to hear? What part of your own life’s quilt has your attention right now?