Encouragement from Silke Pyrlik, Spiritual Director
Blessings to you all from the home front!
It has been a very busy week. Your staff has been working hard to catch up on the front of technology to bring a meaningful worship experience to your homes.Additionally, Tami Kuhlmann and I have been recording a preschool chapel so that our kids can still enjoy virtual chapel with us.
I admit that I originally thought this working from home will grant more time for contemplation. That has not yet proven true in my household but I do hope it is true for you all.
I still believe this is a blessed time where we are forced to take time off, to be with ourselves, to re-calibrate our priorities, to re-discover what is truly important in life.
The term “spiritual director” (SD) can be somewhat misleading because the meaning of the word “director” is mostly occupied with giving direction, managing things, getting things done (like in “Director of Christian Life”). In reality the phrases “spiritual friend”, “spiritual companion”, “deep listener” are more accurately describing what a spiritual director does. Have you ever experienced deep listening? Has someone really, really listened to you? To your story, your worries, your joys? God is a deep listener. Are you taking time to share with God all of your day? Are you telling our Creator your life story, your daily highs and lows?
It can be a very reassuring exercise to do so; especially knowing that there is no judgment, only love, a deep, deep love for you.
More and more people are seeking this kind of deep listening in a relationship with a spiritual director or friend. While this listening is happening there is always a third person invited into the space. That is the Holy Spirit! Spiritual direction always starts with calling upon the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is the true director of the session. From personal experience I can say that the hour of spiritual direction is sacred space; space where healing can take place, through the power of the Holy Spirit. I am in my third year of SD myself and I cannot even start to describe what the deep listening and the trustful relationship with my spiritual director mean to me. It has helped me so much through the horrible cancer journey and the loss of my husband and the father of my Benjamin.
During this unprecedented time of quarantine I would like to encourage you to find someone who can deeply listen to you. If it can’t be a SD right now, maybe you have a really good friend, partner, neighbor, family member. It is healing to speak out loud your worries, anxieties and joys and to pray about them with someone.
And do not forget to give praise in all things!
Let me share with you a beautiful poem written by a fellow spiritual director, Christine Valters Paintner.
Praise Song for the Pandemic
Praise be the nurses and doctors, every medical staff bent over flesh to offer care, for lives saved and lives lost, for showing up either way,
Praise for the farmers, tilling soil, planting seeds so food can grow, an act of hope if ever there was,
Praise be the janitors and garbage collectors, the grocery store clerks, and the truck drivers barreling through long quiet nights,
Give thanks for bus drivers, delivery persons, postal workers, and all those keeping an eye on water, gas, and electricity,
Blessings on our leaders, making hard choices for the common good, offering words of assurance,
Celebrate the scientists, working away to understand the thing that plagues us, to find an antidote, all the medicine makers, praise be the journalists keeping us informed,
Praise be the teachers, finding new ways to educate children from afar, and blessings on parents holding it together for them,
Blessed are the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, all those who worry for their health, praise for those who stay at home to protect them,
Blessed are the domestic violence victims, on lock down with abusers, the homeless and refugees,
Praise for the poets and artists, the singers and storytellers, all those who nourish with words and sound and color,
Blessed are the ministers and therapists of every kind, bringing words of comfort,
Blessed are the ones whose jobs are lost, who have no savings, who feel fear of the unknown gnawing,
Blessed are those in grief, especially who mourn alone, blessed are those who have passed into the Great Night,
Praise for police and firefighters, paramedics, and all who work to keep us safe, praise for all the workers and caregivers of every kind,
Praise for the sound of notifications, messages from friends reaching across the distance, give thanks for laughter and kindness,
Praise be our four-footed companions, with no forethought or anxiety, responding only in love,
Praise for the seas and rivers, forests and stones who teach us to endure,
Give thanks for your ancestors, for the wars and plagues they endured and survived, their resilience is in your bones, your blood,
Blessed is the water that flows over our hands and the soap that helps keep them clean, each time a baptism,
Praise every moment of stillness and silence, so new voices can be heard, praise the chance at slowness,
Praise be the birds who continue to sing the sky awake each day, praise for the primrose poking yellow petals from dark earth, blessed is the air clearing overhead so one day we can breathe deeply again.
And when this has passed may we say that love spread more quickly than any virus ever could, may we say this was not just an ending but also a place to begin.
-Christine Valters Paintner, Abbey of the Arts