Thursday, January 25, 2007

About my course

One or two people have asked to hear more of the Spiritual Direction course,- what’s it’s all about and (I guess) what it’s doing to/for me…As you would expect from this type of thing, there are hefty walls of confidentiality built, quite rightly, around the actual sessions, though I’m sure I’ll find myself blogging things that have arisen in me as a result of them. I’ll have to tread with caution, though – the story of the group is not mine to tell.The official details of the course are here – and pretty well every second Monday till July I’ll be heading out of Charlton Kings to spend the day with this new community.

It feels, as I said earlier, vaguely presumptuous to be doing the course at all. The first exercise we did involved talking to one other person about how and why we were there and I found that, not atypically, my initial impetus had come from being obedient to someone in authority. This has been a bit of a thread in my ministry thus far. I find myself offering to do something which feels beyond my competence, at the suggestion of someone I respect…and events have a way of supporting their judgement, though not always without a struggle.
In this case it was WonderfulBishop (pretty clearly an authority figure in the life of a junior curate) , who during my pre-priesting interview back in 2005 had suggested that if hearing people’s stories and trying to pray with them were highlights of ministry for me, spiritual direction might be an area to consider. I’m hugely aware of my debt to those wise and wonderful people who’ve accompanied me in this sort of relationship, - and it still seems potty to consider that I could ever be as effective as they are…but almost the first thing we were reminded of last week was that we should only aspire to be ourselves.

OK Point taken.

We spent a bit of time on our own considering (none too comfortably) who we felt those selves might be,- and one or two glimpses of the blindingly obvious arrived as a result…but perhaps the most powerful image I took away from last week’s session was the model of spiritual direction the course leaders offered in the form of the painstaking and gradual unknotting of a huge and perplexing tangle of black and yellow wool. The wool belonged to one, but was held by the other as her companion teased at the one loose end, and was slowly enabled to create something resembling a neat skein with at least some of the wool…It took a long time, and definitely looked worse along the way, but she was at least left with something she could handle, though a great mass of wool remained tangled on the floor between them, work for another day.

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