Community in Action September 16, 2020

I have been reading a book called Soul Care in African American Practice by Barbara L. Peacock, just to get another perspective on Spiritual Practices. She reviews Spiritual Practices by selecting African American heroes who she believes illustrates specific practices in their life.

    These heroes include Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Dr. Howard Thurman to name a few. She talks a bit about their life, she explains how the spiritual practice is done, and how certain aspects of their life exemplify that spiritual practice. She then asks the reader some questions to ponder in regard to this particular practice in the reader’s own life.

    Something she asked at the end of one of the chapters intrigued me this morning. She said, “Reflect on the congregations you are aware of that are receptive to the practice of spiritual direction. Please identify and name them (if any).”

    I don’t know a lot of congregations, but I would say there are people in the congregations I know of who would resonant with the practice of spiritual direction. But I also know some people who wouldn’t be interested. Why do you think some people wouldn’t be interested?

    As I pondered this question I thought about why some people wouldn’t be interested. I think one reason is some people need to have time to learn to trust someone. What ever has happened in their past, be it with an authority figure or bad experience with someone at church or maybe their family was very private, may have caused them to find it difficult to trust other people.

    How much history do I need with someone before I can trust them as my spiritual director? At what times in my life was I willing to let someone tell me what to do and I would do it? Were there times in my life when I felt my trust was betrayed? Were there times I felt my freedom to make my own decisions or to chose what I want to do has kept me from seeking or listening to wise advice?

    Am I willing to seek advice or to listen to counsel if I know the person and they have proven to me my best interest is behind their suggestions?

    Yet isn’t this also true of following direction from God? Are we willing to trust God enough to go where we feel the spirit is nudging us to go? How much faith do we have in our own ability to discern God’s leading for us?

    Spiritual practices are sometimes called spiritual disciplines and I know I much prefer the phrase spiritual practice than spiritual discipline. Just the word discipline makes me think of a strict unbending rule. I want to be able to opt out of being held to following a daily discipline. I mean what if that day is not a good day for me and I am just not ready to sit down and read the bible or spend time in prayer or even talk with a fellow Christian.

    I want to keep my freedom to say I am going my own way today. I just don’t want to have to follow someone who tells me what to do (might be a trust issue here sometimes).

    Yet practices infer that you are choosing to follow a practice not having to adhere to a strict discipline. So am I willing to engage in listening and following someone who is willing to be my spiritual director? I think we all could use some wise advice and I think we all could benefit from being challenged in our faith.

    So as I walk this journey I am listening to my spiritual director (someone who I trust implicitly) who is guiding me as I explore my faith and my trust in God. It is wonderful to have someone to walk with me and I think a good spiritual director is someone who has some of your same ideals and exhibits empathy when you are struggling. That is the kind of person I can trust and a person whose I advice I am willing to follow.

    I hope if you have an opportunity you will consider participating in spiritual direction some day. I have found it helpful for my spiritual growth and it has helped me to trust not only God more, but others around me as well.

    Walking and practicing the spiritual journey with you,

    Pastor Randy

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