I write to you from the past.
I am always writing to you from the past.
But this week, it feels especially poignant, especially painful, and especially to the point, this writing from the past.
My friends and colleagues who are congregational ministers are having a terrible time: How does one say anything, write anything ahead of the day of an event, ahead of the day of publication, knowing that our political system may turn on a dime. That the insurrection that birthed the attack on the Capitol was coordinated, and well.
We have learned of Capitol Police who did their best to make themselves targets of the insurrectionist mob by luring the mob away from unsecured doorways. And we have learned that one of the Representatives from Massachusetts, and a member of “the Squad,” Ayanna Pressley (“the Squad” being Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Jamaal Bowman and Con Bush) had a particularly harrowing realization. All the panic buttons in her office suite were disabled and removed.
So I am writing to you from the past. By the time I write, the House of Representatives is moving, yet again, to impeach Donald Trump. By the time you receive this letter, he may already have resigned (though I confess I doubt it). He may already have been removed from office by some means as yet unknown to me.
What all of this reminds me of is this:
There is no “there.” Wishing I were not here is futile. Because I will always be “here.” Yes, yes, “Wherever you go, there you are,” is cliché. Of course, also cliché, is that such messages are repeated over and over because they are true.
We cannot take ourselves away from the realities of our times. We are here, friends. I do not know, today, writing from the past, where your “here” is right now. I do know, however, that you are no longer, “there,” as you seem to be for me.
I was hesitant to write Reflections at all this week. I was hesitant because I feel so utterly unqualified to write anything that comes across as prognostication. But then I realized that I cannot live in the future. I can only control what I can control – part of which is being in touch with my elected officials, a task that is on my to-do list for today, for sure. (You may check up on me to see whether I’ve accomplished it.)
Shakespeare wrote, “Our little lives are rounded with a sleep,” and I must say, I hope that is not true for you or for me. Even though I thoroughly believe that curating one’s intake of media is essential for mental wellness, I also understand that once we know some of what has come to light, we cannot unknow it. And once we know, we must act, in whatever small ways we can.
Last week, I encouraged everyone to use whatever platform, whatever relationships we have to work for the health and common good in this flawed Republic, the United States. And we also need to care for ourselves, our families, and the small communities-within-communities to which we belong. (Thanks to Paula Cole Jones for that expression.)
I will say this, then, from the very center of my wheelhouse:
Spiritual practice is one of the most reliable ways I keep myself grounded—responding to whatever emerges in the world from a proactive, responsible place—and centered—acting from a non-anxious, self-differentiated place. In fact, “Grounding and Centering” is the beginning of many, many Wiccan rituals. It is the way we clear our minds and bodies from unnecessary crap that we may be carrying around, so that we can be present to the task at hand.
One way both to do and to encourage spiritual practice as individuals is to find spiritual companions. Many of you know that I provide individual spiritual accompaniment. And one-with-one spiritual companioning is a good and beautiful thing—a part of my ministry I value tremendously. It is also a kind of ministry of which I take part myself.
But there is another kind of spiritual accompaniment that I find at least as helpful for myself, and that is spiritual accompaniment in a small group. With a crew of other people, they listen and are listened to. They pay attention and are attended to. We spend time deeply focusing on one another’s spiritual journeys, responding, inquiring, and waiting to perceive the movements of Spirit, within us, among us, and beyond us.
The practice takes between 90 minutes to two hours. We focus on different people’s spiritual journeys each meeting, and we hold one another in prayer between times. The meetings themselves are very structured, contemplative, and attentive, in a strong, sacred container I maintain with care.
I am currently offering two Spirit Groups—one is in the evening Eastern time, while the other meets twice a month around lunchtime, Eastern. I would be delighted to explain further details.
If you think a Spirit Group might be a helpful, grounding experience for you, or even if I’ve just piqued your interest, please schedule a free consultation call with me at https://thewayoftheriver.com/schedule-appointments.
May our lives be exemplars of compassion, the compassion of saying yes, and the compassion of saying no—