Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stay in the Stream

For Pastor Ross in Australia, who missed this blog and was kind enough to write and tell me so even though we have never met in person . . .

And for Natalie Hart, who models for me what faithfulness to the vocation of writing looks like.

As a type-A worrywart and general control freak, I am very good at doing things. I make lists, I organize responsibilities and check them off and nearly always get things done on time. I like to think I am dependable.

But there are some problems that don’t get better based on the number of actions I take to try and solve them—no matter how many nights I am awake thinking about different angles, no matter how many prayers trying to clear the path for a word from God, no matter how many lists, the problem not only does NOT go away, it may actually become worse. And then it’s all a confusing muddled mess with no obvious path forward and even more fear and anxiety than I started off with.

In the last year, I’ve started to go monthly for spiritual direction—possibly one more thing on my list to try and find some answers, but it’s turned into an exercise in receiving over and over again these two most basic bits of wisdom: I am not in control, and I have no idea how much God loves me.

Last time, my director talked to me about the value of fallow time—stopping, doing nothing to try and solve the questions but simply (as the Rilke quote goes), “living into the questions.” The other thing she told me was to “stay in the stream” this Holy Week from Good Friday to Easter and beyond and let it carry me.

That sounds nice on paper, but it drives a control freak like me crazy. And perhaps the difficulty of that suggestion is one reason that I need it so much. To recognize that of course I can’t solve anything, of course my life isn’t in my own hands, of course I am held in a story of love beyond my understanding. And all I have to do is stay in the stream; nothing more or less is required of me than that. I don’t have to churn endlessly to try and solve anything; I just have to let go and surrender to the ride. Because no matter how long I feel stuck in the suffering of Good Friday and no matter how much some part of me desires to stay there until I understand what it means, what is absolutely certain is this:  somewhere, someday, in a gift far beyond my grasp, Easter morning is waiting.

So this Holy Week, that is all I am asking: to stay in the stream that carries me (as the song says) “beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.” What a ride that will be if God helps me let go.


Natalie Hart said...

Thank you for your lovely shout-out, friend. Yes, I can see why my post on my fallow period was timely for you. I like your spiritual director's take on "staying in the stream" -- not *following* the stream, because that's something you and I can *do,* but just stay. I've been thinking about seeing a spiritual director again, actually; I've tried seeing a counselor, but I can never get past "isn't this interesting" in a way I can with a spiritual director. Blessings to you!

Pastorross said...

Welcome back. I have loved reading your expressions of life and faith and so pleased that you have sought to continue writing your blog. Your thoughtful words, beautifully expressed, have inspired me to be a better writer. Thanks and gidday from Australia.