I’m having a rabbit hole week as I read “Letters from the Farm: A Simple Path for a Deeper Spiritual Life.” In the short chapters, Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms (a priest, a preacher, a speaker and an entrepreneur with a profound emphasis on healing) tells deceptively simple stories, then follows them with questions that go to the heart of things.
I’m particularly grappling with a chapter asking the reader to consider being cooperative rather than competitive. I like to think of myself as being pretty high-minded, raising up others, and I think I’ve done that in my work with RevGalBlogPals, but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to feeling like I’m not much of a preacher or pastor or writer or spouse or mother or queer compared to ________ (whoever is the flavor of the month at those things, or has done them longer, or with wide success, or …).
Since reading that chapter, I’ve been falling down a rabbit hole, passing these thoughts over and over, faster and faster:
“I should get back into spiritual direction to talk about these things, but where is the money for *that* going to come from since I am doing all these part-time jobs, and I haven’t been pursuing new writing assignments, and wow, I am really a terrible person for not working harder on that, but I’ve been very busy doing the *other* jobs, but I am not a full financial contributor what with the free-lancing, the part-time pastoring and the start-up ministry” and so forth.
Stevens asks, “Is it difficult for you to be generous to colleagues or neighbors?” That part is not so hard. The trouble is when I cannot see generosity in return – although I realize that is not the point of generosity, is it? Generosity is giving it away without worrying about how we rank on the world’s scorecard.
Then she asks, “Who could you view as your ally and colleague rather than your competitor?”
The launch down the rabbit hole is intense, as I grab at things I can’t hold in my hand, try to recall them in mental pictures and quick phrases as I fall farther. Can I hang on to that jar or pick out those titles on the shelves?
How much farther will I fall?
Answering the reflection questions in Stevens’ book feels like spiritual direction, although I miss having someone to talk to about the questions and feelings raised. This morning, instead of telling myself I’ll never be the one with the best-seller and the publicist (the one sending me advance copies of other people’s books), I’m remembering the ways I know my writing and my work with RevGals have touched others – and imagining the ways I don’t actually know about for sure. I’m considering that maybe all those jobs are too many jobs and picturing a different way of organizing my vocational life.
Alice eventually hits solid ground, then moves on through other adventures, attending tea parties and meeting Queens and finding her way home again. I will get up from the table at Starbucks and go home to real life, take the dog out, fix a sandwich, and then keep writing.