Friday, May 04, 2007
A Wise Woman Told Me
Don't be too hard on yourself, my spiritual directress told me during our session this morning, which was our first in several months. Her words to me were like the first drops of rain on parched land. I had been given that advice often enough in the recent past to realize that I must have a tendency to, well, be hard on myself.
I came to see her because I had finally made a decision regarding something that I'd put off for a long time now. I wanted to hear her inputs on the matter. I wanted her to tell me if I was crazy for throwing away what's familiar and structured to accept something that was unchartered and disorganized. In the alternative, and this was what I was hoping for, I wanted her to assure me that the path I had chosen would bring me closer to God.
She listened to the pros and cons of both choices and then asked me to weigh what were "needs" versus "values". If I operated on "need" all the time, I would never be able to feed it, and would always ache for something that might never be filled in this world. On the other hand, if I chose based on what I valued, I would be willing to make sacrifices, and to die to myself, like a seed falling to the ground and shedding off its old self in order to grow, take root, and bloom.
I should have brought pen and paper, for while she spoke I wanted to capture what she said. I knew all about focusing on a need that seemed to never be satisfied - even if it was something good as the need to receive spiritual teaching, formation, and support. She showed me how much I was limiting the Lord's presence in my life.
Then, she mirrored back to me what I said - that I was "in waiting", that this time was still part of my transformation, hence a pause from one structured life on its way to another. When in transition, my forms of prayer could change, and that's alright, she said. I need not fear "backsliding" after I left Lingkod and the many graces I had experienced there for eight years. I should be free to make mistakes, if that was the way to teach me where to go next.
She likened it to making a U-turn. She said it would only cause an accident if I was given a small space within which to make a U-turn. Similarly, in my spiritual life, I should go about change with as much space as was necessary for me to find my bearings again. I should not fear the loss of one aspect of my life when the invitation to a new life was so clear. She reminded me that the Easter season is about new beginnings, and to be thankful that God had revealed to me a fresh direction to take in life.
In less than an hour she was able to answer my questions and assure me that I was taking a leap of faith in the right direction. Whatever doubts or fears I had, largely caused by previously-cherished beliefs and values, were one by one dissolved by her assuring tone and compassionate smile. I was growing and changing, as a person and as a Christian, and I should embrace it with a grateful heart.
She asked me to look back at my years in Lingkod and to thank God one by one for all the blessings I received. It was one way of having proper closure, and it would allow me to appreciate more what God had done in me and through me. It would also prepare me for my new "community" and the new challenges I would face. She asked me what the title of the Lingkod chapter of my life would be, and what theme song for me recurred during that time. I was very clear about the song - it would be "Something More" performed by Lea Salonga from the album of the same title produced by the Jesuit Music Ministry. The song could be my title, for it captures my search for what God has in store at the end of each road that I take.
It is not going to be easy revealing my choice to some people, especially those whom I love and respect. I could only pray that they see that my physical absence does not mean I am going over to the other side of the battle. We would still be fighting for the same values, only on different roads. Best of all, we would be serving the same loving God, in whose family we all belong.