I am seated in my “usual” place, waiting.
He comes in shakes my hand and welcomed me warmly and inviting me into the office.
Shall we begin with a prayer, is his usual question, to which I always answer sure.
Would you care to say the prayer or do you wish me to say it this session? I think for a moment. “You,” I answer and he starts: “Father, today we seek to be content to sit silently with you. Just to be with you, to enjoy your presence, is enough. We hope to find peace in you and in ourselves! This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen”
It always amazes me that he seems to know what I am hoping to find/understand/seek about myself and God. We sit in silence for a moment as if customary for us and when he lifts his head from prayer I know it is the signal that I can ask whatever it is that is on my heart.
He is such a gentle man I feel so comfortable being able to share what is on my soul. He has seen me at my worst, and has helped me see where God is in my life and how God is working for my good. He has been with me since I became a fellow spiritual director in 1998, a long time!
He always knows, and today the prayer speaks to me so strongly. “Father, I am having a difficult time being with God here of late.” He says nothing but looks at me with gentle eyes, waiting, waiting for the Holy and me to say what needs to be said.
This has been one of the best weeks since I had seen him last. I can’t seem to be content. For years I have worked to overcome issues about parenting and the way I was parented. What I knew was that I didn’t want to be like my mother. My mom was a very clingy needy woman. Her life had its own horrors; I never truly knew what they were. What my mother’s parenting experience as a child was one where she felt like the red-haired Irish cousin, an outcast family member. It must have made my mother very insecure about who she was and how she was seen in the world; some of that she gave to me.
It took me years to rebuild myself and with each year I grow stronger and more confident as a mother and each time I have a triumph I feel depressed? It is so frustrating.
He sits patiently looking at me with eyes that are warm and comforting. He asks me if I am aware that many theologians believe that Saint Paul suffered from depression? I had of course. Some scholars have suggested that St. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” may have been depression. (1) My spiritual director suggests that I like Paul feel that to do as God called I must be perfect.
Perfection was one of the demons that I have fought all my life and it is one of the worst parenting demons I have; so, he suggested that I journal my Gratitude, Glory and Grace:
1. What are you most grateful for?
2. What has God done for you today?
3. Through what grace has your life been fulfilled?
He then said something very interesting: “Saint Paul distinguishes between a carnal and a spiritual mind. For him the carnal mind, what we would call the Id, Ego and Super-ego was were we fight the thoughts, feelings and actions of depression. But the spiritual mind is where we encounter a lack of trust in God’s justice. That stopped me right in my tracks! It was something I had been thinking about for weeks: Justice!
I looked at my spiritual director and began to cry, his response as always was to allow the Holy Spirit to give me insight to why I was crying; what spiritual need was I expressing. My need for justice, but not exactly justice, someone to hear me, no, not just anyone my parents to hear me! But they are both dead?!
He asked: “Hear you ask for or say what?”
Me: “That I never got to say how I didn’t want to be the responsible one for my mom. I am angry at my brother for suggesting that I put my life on hold and care for mom! Who was going to nurturer me!” At this point I was shouting with tears streaming down my eyes!
“Which brings us to the justice issue.” he said calmly.
I looked at him, I had stopped crying and sat straight upright. It was a justice issue. I had blocked God out of my life for so long because I could not see that he was alive and working in my life. I was suddenly aware of something our eldest Twinnie had read to me from her Facebook feed:
Teen: Why did You let so much stuff happen to me today?
God: What do u mean?
Teen: My car took forever to start
God: I didn’t let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that would have hit you if you were on the road.
I was remembering something my husband had said to me, something like: never regret anything because at one time that was the thing you needed.
He looked at his watch and said: “Pray about that for next time and let’s see how the Spirit will work in helping you get the nurturing you need.