As we take the beginning steps of our journey through Lent, who would we take as a companion? Name five people, real or imaginary, you might like to have with you as guide or guardian or simply good friend.
Mary Magdalene: During Lent, I like to read the gospels and imagine events through the eyes of one of the disciples. Usually I have chosen one of the Twelve, but this year I chose Mary.
Henri Nouwen: I am in a funk right now and Nouwen is always helpful for reminding me how loved I am by God.
My pastor-mommy friend: I have a friend in my Presbytery who is my age and is someone with whom I can be real. We talk on the phone at least once a week, but I am hoping that we will get together a few times face to face during Lent.
Mother Teresa: In 1994, during my Senior year of college, I travelled with a group to Calcutta to work in the Missionaries of Charity's ministries among the "poorest of the poor." I had the incredible blessing to meet Mother Teresa and, as you can imagine, it was one of the defining moments of my life. (I promise, Hipchickmamma, I will blog about it all one day!)
Sister Mo: When I returned home from Calcutta and began my last semester of college, I was in a bad way. It's always overwhelming when you're on the verge of graduating and launching into something else. I was overwhelmed by all that; however, I was also really needing to process my experiences in India and I was beginning to sense that the denomination that nurtured and raised me was not to be the one in which I would remain.
So, on my Spring Break that year I went to a Roman Catholic retreat center in a nearby town to pray, reflect, and rest. The director of this retreat center was Sister Mo. She met with me everyday I was there, usually in the hot tub, which was very cool. I didn't have the vocabulary for it then, but what she was doing was spiritual direction. Her ministry to me made a huge difference in my life.
I am now in the first year of Spiritual Director training. This week, we are practicing journaling as a form of prayer. In our class on Tuesday, we were asked to choose someone who had influenced us spiritually and journal conversation with them. At first, I thought that this was just cheesy and wondered how it could be considered prayer. I am sometimes incredibly suspicious and resistant. However, this turned out to be one of the most meaningful prayer forms we have practiced thus far. I never would have connected what I am experiencing now back to that time in my life. If you are up to reading it, I would like to share with you the "conversation" I had with Sister Mo that day.
Mo: Would you like to join me in the hot tub?
Me: Oh- that would be wonderful.
Mo: I remember chatting with you here back in 1994- you were 21 years old.
Me: Yes, I came to this retreat center for some solitude and prayer during my Spring Break my senior year.
Mo: Why did you come here instead of heading to the beach with your friends?
Me: I needed some time to reflect. I was conflicted and overwhelmed spiritually, physically and emotionally. I needed to get away from my "normal" life for awhile.
Mo: Why was that?
Me: I was about to graduate with a degree in Bible and Religion. I felt called to be a pastor, but I wasn't sure I would be able to do that in my denomination. Also, I hadn't "recovered," so to speak, form my trip to Calcutta to serve with the Missionaries of Charity. Meeting Mother Teresa and doing the work there had been THE highlight of my life, thus far. However, seeing the immense poverty made me feel that everything I was doing here in the States was unimportant- sinful even.
Mo: Wow- you did have a lot to process. Now you're here in my hot tub again 13 years later. How is what you're experiencing now similar to back in 1994?
Me: hmmm..... Well, I feel like I'm on the verge of that "next step." I'm feeling like what I'm doing now is unimportant, superfluous- perhaps even that it's sinful for me to be doing what I'm doing. pointless- worthless.
Mo: Back in 1994, how did God speak? What did God communicate to you?
Me:That in my life and ministry, then, I was being called to finish school and continued to get prepared. God told me that there was a wonderful opportunity just ahead of me. God said, 'Be patient. you'll see!'
Mo: What is God saying to you now?
Me: God is saying, "I have called you to be where you are now. Finish your work with diligence and faithfulness. There is another wonderful opportunity just ahead- you'll love it. I will bless you and your family. Be patient. You'll see!"
Mo: God is good, all the time.
Me: All the time, God is good.