Thursday, June 05, 2008

physician, heal thyself

"Telling other people how to live can be as intoxicating as leading an army into battle or basking in applause at a political rally." —Tom Ehrich

That's certainly one of the pitfalls of spiritual direction. Talking too much is another... that's one I battle with constantly. I see several people for spiritual direction now... it's one of our ministries here, especially in the city where there's easy access by mass transit. Our two oldest sisters did it for years, but they have pretty much retired and some of their directees were passed on to others. (Me included.)

Most directors come to the session with their calendars, and schedule the next month's appointment. In the beginning I just decided not to do that. "Call me (or email me) when you're ready to come again." I say. One reason is: that I think the spiritual journey is not as neat and timely as the calendar page, and I remember having to think things up to say to my own director. (Not that that's necessarily a bad thing... but it seems to me if you feel a need to talk, then that's the time to do it.) The other reason is selfish. I don't want to waste my own time listening to someone else trying to think something up to say to me. My time may be free, but it's valuable to me, and there are a gazillion other things I could be doing.

But back to Tom's quote. I was thinking about it in relation to the passage from Scripture about removing the log from your own eye before you point out the speck in the other person's. (Even though it always seems easier to see another person's situation more clearly.) But I was also thinking about it in relation to my dealings with another sister. I have a nasty habit of correcting her when she goofs up. She gave me information she thought would be helpful yesterday... information I was already aware of, because I had just finished doing the job. I snapped at her in a way that was totally unnecessary, telling her I already knew because I took that particular job seriously. The implication was, of course, that she did not.

Oh for heavens sake. What's that about? Well, partly it's about my evil "oneness"... expecting everyone to do things the right way, which of course, I always know how to do. Except when I don't. I don't know the right way to do my new job at the church. I constantly have to ask for assistance in the correct procedure for this form or that qualification, or some report I'm supposed to file. I'm so uncomfortable with not knowing what I'm doing, I come home with a headache every day I'm there. That will eventually even out, I think, but not before I've consumed a few bottles of Excedrin. But I digress. So... it's partly the oneness. But more than that, it's the hangover I feel which is the direct opposite of the intoxication Tom speaks about. I can't feel the buzz because this particular sister doesn't listen. Or... more correctly, she may listen, but she does it her own way anyway. Ha ha on me. I've been here before, haven't I?

As they said in my first year here, "welcome to community living."

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