So, we are in the third week of “social distancing” from one another and keeping our daily routines to essential errands only and staying home. It’s clear that we are in a “marathon and not a sprint” as Brene Brown helpfully named it in a recent podcast. So, I’ve been working out what my practice of spiritual direction will look like now and for the foreseeable future. In a way, spiritual direction is all about the marathon. It’s about taking the long view of life and meaning and spirituality. It’s about resiliency – acknowledging the resiliency we know we have, and finding through the thoughtful, mindful presence of another the deep wells of strength we didn’t know we had. As a spiritual director, I am here for the long haul.
It feels over-stated to say that these are unprecedented times, but of course, they are. At least if we are looking back in the living memory of those 75 years and younger. Those of us who did not experience the wars of the first half of the 20th century, or the Great Depression, have a faint collective memory that they were hard. We’ve heard stories of parents or grandparents who had to do without or lost family members at young ages, who consequently lived their lives with a degree of frugality that children of the latter part of the 20th century likely never really understood. We’ve become used to good health and dread the rare time that we have to face suffering. I remember the tragic story of my maternal grandmother’s brother who died from diabetes the year before insulin was discovered and although our family has known times of health crisis, it feels like that story comes from a totally different time. Life as we have known it has been very good. It does feel like that bubble has been popped by COVID-19. Life is going to be different after this. It makes sense that we would be scrambling a bit to get our heads around it, to access the wells of inner resources that we haven’t needed for a long time in order to respond with grace and endurance.
We do have the opportunity to look back in history to the examples of others who lived through times of trial, fear, and change. I have been thinking a lot about Julian of Norwich (1342-c.1416) who lived, wrote, and provided spiritual guidance throughout a time of plague, poverty, and famine, to many in Norwich, England. She was an “anchoress” who lived in a secluded cell attached to the church and only interacted with people through a slit in the wall. Her writings reflect a theology of compassionate love that has been resonant and guiding for me in my own faith practice and in spiritual direction.
“Considering that, at the time, the citizens of Norwich suffered from plague and poverty, as well as a famine, she must have counselled a lot of people in pain. Yet, her writings are suffused with hope and trust in God’s goodness.” (from juliancentre.org)
May we too, find hope and trust in God’s goodness threaded throughout our thoughts, words, and actions during this time. So join me for the marathon! I will be offering spiritual direction online via Zoom as long as distancing restrictions are in place. I am offering first sessions free of charge during this time. Contact me if you would like to make an appointment.