Discernment

Down from the Mountain

There’s something wonderful, if disorienting, about driving
up into the mountains, losing the cell phone signal, failing to connect to the
promised wireless at the hotel and just basically unplugging for a few days.

 

I had a realization, one which might seem obvious to the
rest of you, but which I needed to come to afresh. It occurred to me that I
have been much too interested in the logistics of career and future and
especially family and not really willing to ask God what God wants from me.
There has been too much deductive reasoning and noisemaking and dream-weaving,
and not nearly enough just listening. This was a great weekend for listening.

But of course when we come down from the mountain there is a
newsletter to write and a calendar to plan and crises to which to respond. Pure
Luck is away; that adds to alone time, theoretically, when one could be
listening, but it also adds a layer of complexity to the running of the
household. And I miss him, so I’m not at my best.

I always think of Peter and how he wanted to stay on the
mountain and avoid returning to everyday life. He wanted to go to work right
there, building shelter and waiting on the Lord and the Law and the Prophet.
But he had to head back, and he wasn’t supposed to tell his experience to
everyone he met.

Discernment is like that. It’s lonely. I don’t find the
voice in my head to be particularly trustworthy at the moment. (Lucky reverend
mother
, hers is very useful.)

This week I’m thinking about who I can trust to help tease
out the real questions, not the superficial, or at least surface, ones. Maybe I
can finally get out of my own way; maybe I can let myself out of the birdcage
once and for all.

11 thoughts on “Down from the Mountain”

  1. It’s funny…I tend to be an introspective, introverted person, but when it comes to issues of spiritual discernment I’m desperate for community…it’s very hard for me to go up the mountain with no agenda other than to listen.

  2. And there I was, surrounded by colleagues, some of whom are friends, all of whom are clergy. But at that kind of meeting, everyone’s in glad-handing, networking mode. It’s just the opposite of a retreat. I really had to work hard to hear a thing.

  3. Good for you for being able to listen while the networking dynamic was going on.
    I find events like the one you attended to be at times rewarding (it’s nice to catch up with friends and colleagues) and at other times exhausting. After our weekend Presbytery meeting, I’m just exhausted.
    I’m glad you were able to begin some important discernment.

  4. We just finished a worship service on vision that was based around four prayer stations: preparation, discernment, barriers, and perseverance. My husband, my best friend, and I designed the discernment station. I wish I could tell you that gives me some special insight into the subject, but I would be lying.
    Listening is so difficult, especially in a house full of children and animals. There is always a task that needs doing or someone who needs attention. I used to think I could be Mary, but I’ve turned into Martha.
    I have to believe that we are always on the path, even when we don’t have the time to pay attention to the journey. Opportunities to be away and apart give us new focus. It’s just hard to maintain when we get back to familiar surroundings.
    Hang on to that little voice in your head. It’s wiser than you may think.

  5. Glad you’re back! Sounds like an important realization about listening. I try to carve time for that sort of listening everyday, but still need bigger blocks of time for it on occasion. What’s interesting to me is how quickly I sabotage that practice when I most need it…makes me wonder if it’s the fear of what I might hear that repels me and leads me to seek “comfort” in the noise.

  6. Kathy, your church sounds very cool. Today I had a chance to do some journalling and also to have conversations with two people I trust deeply, around truth instead of logistics and strategy. It was quite refreshing.

  7. Wow, Songbird, we just spent 48 hours at a camp on a lake that led me to (what may be) a big life change. D. had mentioned in advance of the trip that every time we talk about How I Want My Life to Be, we end up problem-solving about my current job instead. Early this week, at a camp on a lake in the mountains, I too just sat and listened… and it’s amazing where I ended up.
    Amazing, too, that I immediately started thinking up a list of people who can help me ask the hard questions about what seems right now to be a promising – but as yet unexplored – path. Hope you find your discussion partners post-haste!

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