Spiritual direction: how far can we go?
How far can we go?
There are days, sometimes weeks or years, when you wonder how far you can go.
Sometimes it feels like it’s been a long time since we’ve made any progress or accomplished anything. We fear being stuck or sitting on blocks that turn to rust.
Maybe we feel like we’re coasting, building on our past accomplishments. We might get frustrated because other people don’t even seem to remember our most important work. We feel we are being shackled and shackled as we struggle to make a meaningful contribution.
Some of us are unable to identify opportunities that would allow us to be more productive.
It’s easy for us to fall into lives of quiet desperation, looking for ways to be satisfied or fulfilled.
We can be confident that our best days are behind us. We may have missed them because we weren’t paying attention.
It’s a challenge for us to pay close attention when we’re busy being productive and getting things done. We focus on the details of what we need to do and often lose touch with who we are becoming. Our goal is often to do our best and demonstrate how well we work.
Some of us come to a point where we start to seek more satisfaction and fulfillment in our lives. We start looking for ways to apply what we have learned in new situations. Some of us wonder how far we can go.
Many of us start looking for different kinds of goals to achieve and different kinds of challenges to overcome.
We may realize that we must be responsible for leading ourselves before we can take responsibility for leading others. Our leadership awakens to its own spiritual aspects, to its own depth and to its own meaning.
How far do we have to go?
There are times when we feel like we have already done everything we set out to do.
We feel that we have already achieved our goals. This year has perhaps been particularly good for us. We may have followed good advice, exceeded expectations, mastered things. It is possible that we have even overcome the opposition and surpassed our competitors.
There are also times when we feel there is no real reason to continue.
We may have less hope of making a meaningful difference. Do we still believe in what we are doing? Are we discouraged, tired or ready to give up and stop trying? We might think of ourselves as out of options, out of time, out of luck.
People come to me for different reasons, seeking their own answers. Some people want to become better or stronger. Others would like to develop new skills and learn to do things in new ways. Some people want to find the peace, the happiness, the calm that has eluded them.
They can just look for someone who listens to them.
Each of us is looking for something different. Are we dissatisfied, disappointed with what we have found so far? Each of us wants to heal the pain of lacking the depth and joy we crave.
The people who come to see me want more than just reassurance or comfort. They want something real that will make their life different. People who come to me want to find a deep, underlying truth that transcends life’s challenges.
We work together to discover and explore the deep joy where everyday happiness is found.
How long do we have left to go?
I don’t believe the world needs another organized checklist or another set of standardized plans.
The value of our experience is not in what it makes us feel. We haven’t worked so hard or so efficiently just to add to our resumes.
We don’t measure how far we can go by what we have already done. The key question in understanding how far we can go is to recognize the first step.
Each of us brings a wealth of experience and insight to our next step. What determines how far we can go is our willingness to let our ideas shape our actions.
Our experience benefits us when it fuels our reflection and contemplation on the lessons it has for us.
Are we ready to take this opportunity to reflect on what we have done?
The challenges we face in the future are not about replicating the effectiveness we have demonstrated in the past. Our leadership will be less about efficiency or achieving goals than about wisdom.
We may have learned a lot about working with people or budgets. Our leadership is only touching the surface of a vast potential ocean of wisdom.
When we take time for contemplation and reflection, we begin to dip our toes in wisdom.
How far are we willing to go?
It is not us who sit on blocks that are rusting, but our understanding of the spiritual life.
We have the unique opportunity to experience life in new ways. The ways we understand and experience life, based on our thinking, will change what our lives will become.
By building on traditional and even ancient models of leadership, we can live new kinds of lives. Contemplation allows us to bring our experience to light and see new facets of it.
The way we live life has been in the aisle for too long. It’s time for us to take a closer look, maybe replace a few parts, and start over.
The only real limit to what we can do is our own willingness to learn and grow. We can see ourselves as worn and rusty relics or as the building blocks of a new kind of contemplative life.
Each of us has our own contribution to make and together how far can we go?
How far can we go today?
What are the limits of what we are willing to do this week?
[Image by dave_7]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate college professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is [email protected]