Friday, October 21, 2011

Called together, even in pain

Listen to this post:

Last night I returned to my roots: facilitating a spiritual-nurture group with adults.

After training in, leading and participating in groups for almost 10 years, I took a break from adults, switched to kids, but the urge to return hit hard several weeks ago and I listened!

The gift of teaching kids was planning a general outline, then seeing where they and Spirit led. I am freer in my facilitating. Another was the purity of their spiritual experiences: no baggage or jaded attitudes. Can you imaging leading a small group of them through lectio divine (slow, sacred reading of scripture)? They were as immersed, maybe more so, than adults I have observed. We read a passage about Jesus and children and ended in them feeling embraced in Jesus' arms. And there they stayed and stayed, until I broke the spell.

But a hunger for spiritual companionship and more depth with my faith community led me back here. As did the urge to begin sharing my unpublished book, making it a living project. So there was some fear and trepidation attached ... also excitement and a feeling of faithfulness. As I drove the beautiful fall backroads to the meetinghouse, knowing I'd probably have a small group, I prayed for release from the response and recognized my role was to do it ... for whomever was there.

It was small and delightful. Two trusted, seasoned Friends and a young one ready to open. Apparently, I am not the only one seeking the depth of companionship a regular small group creates.

I had a plan, ready to abandon or improvise as the dynamic dictated. There was such a natural flow of space and talk, meditation, reflection, prayer and laying it out there. The first-session topic was, probably, the hardest: pain as teacher. For a while, in my self-depricating way, I felt I had missed the mark. Really, though, how could I when I was drawing from my own experience? We did fall into the subject, which touched some nerves, yet opened us as a group. Opened us to each other; opened us to Spirit. I shared a wonderful concept form Desert Father Dorotheos of Gaza about how as we move closer to each other (imagine the spokes of a wheel), we move closer to God; as we move closer to God, we move closer to each other. It's similar to the scriptural passage in Matthew 18:20: "Where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them."

A much as I enjoy solitude and spend time on personal and spiritual-growth work, I need a group. It is just not the same as being alone, or even being in worship. It is opening one to another, leaving room for God.

Try it – you'll realize you need it.

• Where do or have I experienced Spirit in a small group?
• What dimension has that added to my spiritual life?
• Where are other places, not especially declared spiritual, that I am fed in that way?
• What, exactly, do I receive?
• What, exactly, do I give?

my heart has been bound
open only when I am alone
and safe
in sanctuary

and that has sufficed

until the longing eked out
and I needed more

worship: always

but something else:
regular companionship

something and someones God called together

when I listened and
was faithful

it was powerful

just what I needed

imagine that

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