The final class for me for Honours in Theology (apart from the thesis) is Wisdom Literature. We are beginning with Proverbs. One of the proverbs we looked at in class today says:
Where there is no guidance a nation falls,
but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety (11:14).
This could equally apply to individuals - we fall without guidance. We find our wholeness, our well-being, not in isolation or self-preservation, but in relationship, in community. We are invested in the well-being of each other, for the well being of ourselves, of us all.
There has been a heaviness of late, cloaking me with its weight. In the last 24 hours the cloak has shifted, even lifted.
Perhaps the weather is a factor, or perhaps it is a metaphor. Maybe it is merely a convenient coincidence. For the heat and humidity have been oppressive recently, a ball and chain slowing you down in mind and body, tiring you out but keeping you from rest with their resultant discomfort.
The release of the cuff, the lightness in the air, coincide with a release I have felt within.
Supervision - it sounds like it might be a drag; but honestly, it is one of the most helpful practices in which I engage, meeting with a supervisor (or mentor, or guide) regularly to reflect on my practice in ministry, on the Spirit's movement in and through me.
As I spoke with my supervisor yesterday and she articulated truths I had been ignoring, probing with curiosity my decisions, behaviours and motivations, making observations with insight and (I must say) courage (for truth-telling is rarely easy or comfortable), I began to see with a clarity I had been lacking.
And it has happened before, that as I listen, and as I wonder aloud, wandering through a tangled forest, I can almost literally see the Spirit showing me the questions or the answers, the ideas or the images I need. I can see the mess clear, the path emerge, the light break through.
Some of the things revealed under the mess this time are hard to acknowledge, for the decisions I knew would come one day are approaching, and they will cause pain.
The path that it seems I am to travel isn't a lovely paved flat and straight pathway, and I can actually only see the next two or three steps with any certainty, requiring much trust on my part.
And there will be much to leave behind.
But faced with the alternatives, two possible paths both open to me, I know with certainty that it is the riskier path I must take. Though the risks will be great, I am glad to have found again this confidence in the steps I am taking, having begun to hesitate, to doubt.
I also see now that the slow-seeming path is the most appropriate path, when I had begun to consider abandoning one idea for another with potential for more immediate outcomes.
These steps require much trust on my part, trust that they are guided by the Spirit who has guided me thus far, and that they and my Spirit friend will take me further into God's dream and Story of healing and wholeness, as I take my place in that Story for my own well-being and the well-being of others.
I got up smiling this morning for the first time in weeks; it was a little disconcerting because the sadness had become known and comfortable. But even so, this joy feels a whole lot better, and I cannot find the words to thank my supervisor (mentor, guide ... friend) adequately for discerning the Spirit's guiding with me, nor to thank the church, for inviting us into this life-giving practice.