Still my adult self.
Note: There won’t be new posts at Still Forming next week while I’m away at a conference. (More on this below.)
I’m noticing the importance of treating “the work” as a part of my life I visit at times designated by me. And here’s why.
If I sit inside it all the time, gnawing at it and working on these things like a dog working a bone, totally preoccupied with sucking the marrow out of its present obsession, not only would it suck me into a huge, black, emotional, scary hole, but it would also exhaust me, and it would additionally render impossible my ability to keep doing what I do with the rest of my adult life.
Because I am an adult functioning in the world.
I’ve done a great degree of work to become the adult I am today, and the adult I am is real and still gets to show up for the majority of my waking hours. The adult I am has been given a vocation to write and teach and lead people in this space and on the Sunday Quiet and through spiritual direction. The adult I am is in a marriage of equals. The adult I am manages a household. The adult I am runs a freelance editing business. The adult I am takes care of her body.
The adult I am gets to keep living life. She doesn’t get ignored or erased or swallowed up by “the work.”
But the work must continue, too, and not be banished or repressed.
And so I visit it. I go to therapy appointments, right now once a week. I share some of the things I’m learning in those appointments with Kirk when I’m ready. I share some of them with friends during times of connection. I created a journal just for processing things related to this season, and I visit that journal when things come up and need to come out. I keep tabs on my inner world, especially when watching movies or reading books or online content that cross over the same experiences I’m processing right now, so that I know when I need to make room for feeling my response. I go to spiritual direction.
I give this work specific places to breathe and be fully welcome. And then I keep going about my business.
It’s like these words that Jan Richardson wrote as part of a Lenten retreat she recently offered, which a friend shared with me:
There is a time for engaging our story: for contemplating it, praying with it, doing lectio with it. There is a time for talking about our story, telling it, weaving it and unweaving and weaving anew. There is a time for reflecting and remembering.
And there is a time for rest.
Particularly when we are working with painful threads of our story, it can grow exhausting to be perpetually present to those threads, to be in the thick and the tangle of them. Sometimes we need to relax our hold on the threads, to lay them down for a time and trust that the Spirit will still be at work in them, and in us. Even as we seek to be present to our story—to be aware and conscious and to know who we are and how we are part of a larger story, and to be engaged with God in the creating of our own story—there may be times we need a Sabbath from our story.
Holy absence, my spiritual director calls it.
Not ignoring our story. Not dismissing it. But letting ourselves rest in the knowledge that sometimes there is weaving that God does only when our attention is turned elsewhere—when we give ourselves time and Sabbath and place the threads into God’s hands rather than trying to handle them all ourselves.
There’s such wisdom in her words, isn’t there?
Speaking of taking a rest, I’ll be taking one such rest next week while attending the SDI annual conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. I’ve been invited to the conference as a guest of SDI, having been named one of their 2013 New Contemplatives. It’s an honor, truly.
As such, I won’t be posting in this series here next week. (I will, however, continue to host the Cup of Sunday Quiet, if you’d like to sign up to receive those weekly mailings.) I’m excited to give myself the time and opportunity to live inside the profession and training I’ve received over the course of these last many years.
How might you allow yourself intentional places to visit your own “work” right now? How might you also give yourself room to rest in such a season?