It seems like I offer a lot of confessions in this column and, well, hang on because here comes another one. I have been working hard on strengthening my spiritual side. I’ve always been really good at thinking things through and feeling things through but I’ve struggled with allowing the Spirit to guide me in the work of my head and my heart. I often get so busy that I think I don’t have time. And, I’m learning that I cannot be too busy to take time for this important work.
I started seeing a Spiritual Director when I moved to California. Spiritual Direction was not something that was possible in the early years of my ministry when I was a missionary in Japan. It wasn’t even something I heard much about until later in my ministry in Hawaii when a few colleagues shared with me their experiences of seeing a Spiritual Director. So, when I came to California and began my ministry here (which, by the way, will be three years ago tomorrow!) I was curious to learn more from my colleagues in ministry who shared their experiences with their Spiritual Director and their experiences attending Spiritual Retreats and participating in activities to deepen their spiritual life.
It was through my Spiritual Director that I learned about Companions on the Inner Way and their twice-a-year retreats. He invited me to attend one so I could learn more about the retreat and share this information with others in the United Church of Christ. He told me that he hoped the UCC presence at these ecumenical events would grow.
The retreat I attended in February was life-changing for me in many ways and I couldn’t help but see God’s hand in the timing. First, it came the week after my sister’s funeral so the space it provided me to grieve and to just be was precious. And, second, it offered me a place where I could think differently about who I am as a child of God and as a member of community. I returned from that retreat more grounded and ready for whatever was to come next.
I hope some of you will take advantage of the next Companions retreat, which will be held at Zephyr Point Retreat Center at Lake Tahoe and where the speaker will be Lisa Fullham, who is one of our own and serves on Committee on Ministry Section E.
Even if the Companions on the Inner Way retreat is not possible this year, please look for the many opportunities that are out there to connect in a deeply spiritual way with God. The work we are called to do is hard and we need to find those places for nurture and support. Our local churches provide that to us in so many ways and opportunities for additional nurture and growth can enhance our journey in exciting ways. In fact, this is one of the things I love about Annual Gathering—the opportunity we have every day to worship in new ways and to connect with God and the best that is in us and the best that is us when we are together.