A young minister colleague came to me last week and said, “we really need spiritual direction for the resistance–time to reflect on what we are so passionate about.”
The resistance of which my friend speaks is made up of humanists, interfaith religious leaders and progressive Christians all fighting the creeping authoritarianism of the Trump administration. And it is deeper than politics, according to the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, Dr. John Dorhauer, who recently wrote in his Huffington Post blog:
It is less the politics of Mr. Trump that draws our ire and enflames our speech than it is the degrading nature of his rhetoric and the embrace of a persona that inflicts trauma, pain, grief, and humiliation on large segments of our population with malice aforethought and without shame or regret.
This is not, for us, a political debate. Yet.
It is a humanitarian cause.
How does spiritual direction contribute to this humanitarian cause?
Spiritual direction helps people take “a long, loving look at the real.” Spiritual direction for the resistance means an experienced and compassionate listener sits patiently with you as you sort out what is real and what you are being invited to do as part of this movement.
Will you fight for the environment, Black Lives Matter, feminism, gender equality, LGBTQ rights, civil liberties, privacy, immigration justice, economic justice, or affordable health care, just to name a few?
When you feel strongly enough about an issue and can see that this will be a long and distracting fight, you will likely need guidance to prevent burnout.
Activists tend to burn the candle at both ends even in the best of times. It’s hard to let up or give yourself time off when you believe the stakes are so high. For example, a person devoted to nonviolence may think it impossible to spend too much time working against the notion that the United States might resort to a first strike against North Korea. When something as devastating as nuclear war is on the table, our need for connection to our understanding of God and our deepest self is crucial.
Help for discernment
Discernment is also called for. Human energy is precious and finite. Each of us has only so much to give to any cause. Spiritual direction can help activists focus on which issue is most important for them and what action could they take that would be the most reasonable for them at this time in their life.
Spiritual direction can also serve those among us who want to be part of the resistance but already have too much on their plates. Single mothers, struggling entrepreneurs or people who have to work several jobs just to pay the bills probably aren’t going to take time off to march.
In spiritual direction, we each seek our place in the resistance, resting in the fact that we can support our brothers and sisters who do march the streets or those fighting authoritarianism in creative and life-affirming ways. That place depends on how we are made physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The resistance will take time, creativity and energy. Pausing to reflect on what you have to give is what spiritual direction is all about.
Want to try spiritual direction? I have openings in my schedule for new directees—regardless of where you live. I can work by phone, Skype or if you live in the Phoenix metro area we can meet in person. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.teresablythe.net. Also visit my website for the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction.
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