...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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What's Your Image for Spiritual Health?

Jesus never really said much, as far as we know, about keeping his life well-balanced. Even so, alot of people have told me through the years that's exactly what I should try if I am to do better.

Regardless of what you're trying to balance, the image that comes to mind is the guy struggling to balance all the plates at the circus. He works really hard to maintain a brief moment of equilibrium until the act is over. All the while we hold our breath to see if he can really do it.

I'm not sure all the trying is ever worth the moment of so-called perfect balance. Juggling stuff always ends in dropping something. It puts all the attention on us.

Instead of balancing plates, we need to ask, what will make us feel more integrated and less fragmented? According to the book, Strengths Based Selling, the four rules of integration are: 1) There is no end date to integration 2) You cannot do it alone 3) You have to think small and 4) Integration is a choice, but it's never perfect.

One of my early teachers in the spiritual life, Elizabeth O'Connor, forwarded the idea that growth in the various centers of our lives was more important than simply keeping our schedules full and balanced. Her book, Letters to Scattered Pilgrims, was seminal in establishing for me that movement, not stasis, was apart of who we are and who God is. The life centers she discussed focused on our historical, intellectual, emotional, and moving centers.

That we're invited to grow and move toward God and our true selves is the gift of any age. It's not about trying, willy-nilly, to balance what we already have, but ways of being open to the new that God wants to bring into our lives.

We make room for God and the movement of the Holy One and ask the question, 'God, where and how do you want me to grow and to experience more of your fullness of grace and love? And how will I share that over-abundance with others?

One of the metaphors Jesus used for this God- life experienced in us was the one of a spring gushing up to eternal life. John 4:14. With God, there is always enough for you. Isn't that a better, more holy, less hectic picture than that of a plate-twirler?

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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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