...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Thursday, January 15, 2009

From Divorce Attorney to the Spiritual Director

I don't anyone who says, "I wanna be a divorce attorney when I grow up!" My brother Jeff, who joined the family law firm and has been a practicing attorney for about thirty years, never intended to be a "divorce attorney." He handled one or high profile divorces, and there you go. News traveled fast and soon the majority of his work has become taken up with the often labor-intensive task of accompanying the disenchanted on the legal and emotional journey through their divorces and parental custody arrangements.

When he says the opposite of love is systems failure to care, I listen. As he's the one who has been there to witness the end of marriages, I think his observations are on track. The other side of passion, of love, is complete apathy and indifference. The juicy sounding word from church tradition is sloth: one of the 7 Deadly Sins. It's "unwillingness to work or exert oneself; laziness; idleness." Some of the New Testament was probably first addressed to slothful hearers and readers. As examples, think of some of the Christians described in Revelation and those targeted in Hebrews.

This is the haunting question: when do I go beyond caring to indifference? At what point do I move from life and health to the spiritual death of sloth? Can I trust that it's possible to know this for myself by myself, or do I need the support of others in this journey? Others, like spiritual guides and directors, can see what we refuse to see in ourselves. Or just cannot see. Or both.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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