Never Give in to the Demands of Christ

“Never give in to the demands of Christ. Give in to the demands of your own love for him.” — Anthony De Mello, SJ

We would do anything for love. Those who have fallen in love know this. I’ve sworn it, because I’ve felt it. And though I don’t know that I’ve ever yet loved well enough for this to be entirely true, the essence of it is, for the simple fact that we are reckless in love, abandoned to it and abandoned to consequences. I’ve unashamedly made decisions and taken risks I wouldn’t have made had I not been in love—not all of them, I hope, selfish. Continue reading

Child’s Pose and Spiritual Direction: Stopping Along the Journey

I’m a complete novice to yoga, which is challenging because, like most people, I don’t like not being good at things. Worse still, it’s part of my goal as someone who lives in his head to better connect with my body—which I’m terrible at. I can’t study my way being more comfortable on the mat; I can’t brute-strength-train my way to feeling more embodied.

Much like making my beginning with spiritual direction, I find I have to adopt a posture that’s more teachable than determined, more attentive than sure and more playful than linear. Most of my life, I seek mastery; here, I practice, which includes practicing rest. Continue reading

Saying Goodbye in Direction

As a young spiritual director in training, one of the common challenges I’ve encountered is finding and keeping directees. A practice I’ve inherited from my teachers is that I ask for an initial six-month commitment, which can become helpful when early conversations suddenly become challenging and uncomfortable, or when the outcomes are not immediately evident or satisfying, or when meetings become inconvenient to schedule. Still, for many reasons, not everyone is able to see that initial commitment through. In my last year and a half of training, sadly, several have simply dropped off the map. Only one directee has stayed with me to term—in fact, for almost a year. Continue reading

The Something That Is Nothing and the Nothing That Is Something

 

At the center of a wound, where we long to fill it with distraction, sensation, love, possession, whatever we have lost or lack and wish to find or recover, there is something. Yet because we are lonely or vulnerable or restless or pained, our attention is on the something that isn’t there. We spend lives looking to have things rather than not have them, to have rather than to lose: to feel complete, OK, unwanting, warm and secure. Some of us find it, fleetingly, at the end of a few glasses, or we stop thinking about it after we watch enough television, or as long as I can be held or know there is someone to hold me. We want something rather than nothing. Continue reading

Let Us Be in the Darkness: On Advent

Everything is dark, and in the darkness there is cold. If anyone is near you, you can’t see them. At the edge of the dark there is not a wall or a visible horizon; there is no door you can discern that might open and let you out or even pour light in, and if there were, you do not know where you might face to watch it, what direction you might go in to approach it and not go further from it, deeper into the thick, obscuring darkness. This is a very real experience in seasons of life, sometimes very long and apparently endless seasons. And it’s OK to experience it, to be in that darkness, to feel the breath of despair, to not know. Gød knows that it’s OK. At least, the Church believes this, or, at least, we indicate that we do by building into our peculiar way of marking time, by building into our own particular calendar, a season dedicated to acknowledging the presence of darkness in our lives and the perennial difficulty of hope. It is Advent. Continue reading