Just over a year ago, I took a deep breath and clicked “publish,” thus sending out my first Garden of the Spirit reflection. I called it Advent Adventure, a fitting title with which to enter the world of posting!
And this last year has been an adventure. Apprehension and anticipation are both part of adventure, and I’ve experienced them in full. I still don’t click “publish” with ease; it still takes a deep breath, but I do click.
My intentions for this writing are the same as when I began. I hoped to share experiences of the Spirit, trusting that my stories would resonate with you, and help you to honor your experience of the Spirit. I’ve written about spiritual practices that help me be aware of God’s presence in my life, implicitly inviting you to join me in the practice.
I receive from you, too. Every time I’ve sent out a monthly reflection from Garden of the Spirit, I have heard from readers, telling how my story reflected their experiences, and sharing their openings to the Spirit. I have learned that my experience does resonate with others. Our spiritual paths are interwoven, touching each other, even while each is unique. Often we don’t know how much we are together. We feel alone.
A pastor friend said to me yesterday, “I feel alone even when I’m not alone.” We are not alone on this journey, but it can seem very lonely. This felt aloneness need not be overwhelming, however, when we join with others.
In Will and Spirit, Gerald May, spiritual director and psychiatrist, wrote:
The spiritual journey seems lonely. . . .There is a dimension of delicate pain in this, but even in our aloneness, we are together for we each have it. At the deepest level of our hearts we are all aching, for each other and for the same eternally loving one who calls us. It would be well, I think, if we could acknowledge this more often to one another.
I have been a spiritual director for over two decades, and a therapist and listener to others for much longer. I’ve seen repeatedly how much our human journeys are similar, even though the details are unique. And I’ve noticed how much we want to share our experiences of the Spirit.
At my Quaker Meeting, we occasionally offer a program called “My Spiritual Journey.” This is simply one person telling of experiences that shaped their relationship with God, both the rocky times and the fulfilling times. It is always one of the best attended events of the year. As May wrote, “at the deepest level of our hearts, . . .we are all aching” for such sharing.
I called this blog post “An Invitation,” and here’s the invitation! Two invitations actually.
With this post I have opened the “comments” section of the blog. I invite you to respond to my Garden of the Spirit reflections by sharing your insights with other readers through “comments.” (I will still respond to notes from those who want to write just to me; simply hit “reply” on email.)
We need companions on the spiritual journey. I hope you will share your experiences of the Sacred, your uncertainties and your discoveries, with others through my blog or through face-to-face friendships.
Here’s my second invitation. Begin the adventure of this new year by reaching out to someone who is not already close to you. Is there someone whom you see regularly but don’t really know? Or someone who needs an outstretched hand – and you haven’t yet offered yours? Give a thank you to someone, embrace someone, visit someone, forgive someone, reach across boundaries.
In Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor wrote:
What we have most in common is not religion but humanity. . . .encountering another human being is as close to God as I may ever get, in the eye-to-eye thing, the person-to-person thing, which is where God’s Beloved has promised to show up. . .
This year may we be more open to truly see and treasure each other, to honor our universal human journey, and our journey with God.
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4 thoughts on “Coming Together: An Invitation”
I love that you have arranged for us to connect with you and each other through the comment page now, Nancy 🙂 Thank you. And yes, it helps to hear others say that they feel out-of-place, different and lonely. The thought of saying those words out loud to any but a very trusted friend never occurred to me before. Blessings on your walk and writing, as we receive in the reading.
Thank you for writing, Ann. I hope others will discover how to comment, too. We need companions along the way,- in the joy and the hard, lonely times. (It is said that if two people are lost in a storm they will go on longer than one person alone. We need each other!) Nancy
Once I read your recent posting, I was inspired to reach out to a friend I’d had intentions of contacting for a number of weeks. The conversation was a sweet pause in a task heavy day. Such a breaking into the heart of being had me put First Things first. Thank you for this inspiration.
What a wonderful gift you received through reaching out to your friend. A “sweet pause” in a full day. We don’t always know what means to others when we reach out, but the act of reaching out shapes us, too. Thank you for sharing your experience! Nancy