I turned 45 last week. As I stand smack in the middle of my 40s, I can tell you with honesty and humility, this decade has made a liar out of me. Over and over and over again. Things I said I would never do, I have done. Things I swore would never happen, have happened. Things I thought so solid, so sure, so certain . . . not so much anymore. Paradoxically, this pattern of untruth has led me to place where I am beginning to embrace my truest self. Forty-five finds me on the brink of a new adventure: I’m going back to school to earn my certification in spiritual direction. And no one is more surprised by this turn of events than I am!
I left the academic world in 1996. I left the professional world in 2001. Never, ever, in a million years, did I think 2015 would find me returning to both. This blog has been a safe space for me to chronicle this transition. From turning 44, to going to Wyoming, to figuring out homeschooling, everything seemed to be pushing me to reconcile who I was with who I wanted to be.
Writing from Wholeness was a watershed in this process. When I published the first post of that series back in June, my dear friend Emmie (who I am lucky to know in real life) left me a comment that literally changed my life. It was short and to the point: “I really think that you should be a spiritual director.” When I read her words, I honestly felt an alignment in my body that was so strong, it felt physical. My whole body said “YES!” I had no choice but to listen.
I have been in spiritual direction for over three years, yet I still stumble over the words when I am asked to explain what exactly it is. “Soul companioning”, “sacred conversation”, “deep listening”, “holy witnessing” are all phrases that have been used to describe the relationship between a director and a directee. (And just to confuse matters further, some in the profession eschew the word “direction” and all its derivatives entirely.) Suffice to say, it is a subtle practice that is nonetheless a powerful practice which “supports, test, and encourages our direct relationship with God and the truth of our own souls. It helps us to risk embracing the often disorienting transformations that emerge from becoming vulnerable to the most subtle yet substantial reality of our lives: our soul-life in God.” Or so says Tilden Edwards, author of Spiritual Director, Spiritual Companion.
Having an inspired experience via the internet and making it happen in real life are two totally different things. But once I had the vision of myself as a spiritual director, I could finally channel all that transitional energy into something concrete. The past six months have grown me in ways I didn’t even know I needed to be grown. I have been forced to clarify what exactly it is I want. I have had to figure out what I was willing to give and give up to go back to school. Late last year, I was accepted into this program and have already started my studies. (Hello ten-page papers! Hello required reading!) It feels scary and exciting and absolutely delicious.
Speaking of delicious . . . I cancelled my birthday cake order with Vincent, because I found this recipe for no-bake coconut cookies. All I can say is, they are better than the best chocolate cake in the world, which is saying a lot. A whole lot. However, as I have said before, I have been known to lie . . .