Updated: Aug 26, 2020
by Robinmarie McClement
“Dears, there is nothing in your life that will not change – especially your ideas of God. – Tukaram
How do you imagine God?
What is a spiritual life?
Has your spiritual life been changed by this pandemic?
What about this experience has brought you closer to or taken you further away from your personal relationship with God?
Do you have a regular practice of being with God and what does that look like? How has that changed since the pandemic?
Well here is another blog for you 😊! If I am being completely honest about this, I don’t really know very much about what a blog is. When invited to participate in this new forum, I had to ask my 31 year old son and his wife! I also looked up a few articles online and am now wondering what has taken me so long to get to know more about them. So there it is, I am learning something new…again.
There has been a lot of learning new things during this Covid-19 pandemic. Much of it has been about how to live and work at home and really learn how to “live” at home again in a whole new way. Many of us might even have day-dreamed years ago about how great it would be to be “stuck” at home, to live in pj’s and hang out with our loves, our kids and our families, and just be. For some who already work from home, the adjustment has meant having to learn other things.
Most of us reading this newsletter look forward to one day a week where we can gather with our church family and enjoy the community where we sing, pray, listen to scripture, receive a good sermon (usually), and collectively lean into each other and share sacred space with our Creator, God. We have had to learn how to do that differently now too and are finding new ways to be together apart. We have even learned how to share communion together! However, it just isn’t natural to most of us and, frankly, it can be hard on our own personal faith system and relationship with God.
I have worked in the UCC for over 25 years in education for both youth and adults. I have been tutored by some of the most amazing theologians and ministers of our time. In 2009 I went back to school and became certified in Spiritual Direction through Stillpoint. I left church ministry to open a private practice, and for the last 8 years have been growing this very special and sacred calling. I have about a dozen clients with whom I meet once a month in one-on-one sessions. Since March, we have been meeting online, and it looks like that will be the way of it for the foreseeable future. Learning to create sacred space on a zoom call was an interesting ride, to be sure. It was only when I got out of the way of trying to offer the perfect space and just let God be God and took my place in the second of three chairs as a holy listener that sacred space became present.
Sister Joan Chittister taught me it is in the desire to be in union with God that allows for this to happen. In the beginning of her book “Called to Question,” she shares a story of being taken aback at the idea of not being able to receive communion each day because there was no priest at the convent where she served. She remembered the Cardinal telling her, “If you desire the Eucharist, you have the Eucharist!” He began to explain that she and the other sisters would have to learn the “Eucharist of Desire.” It truly shook her to her core. The priest explained, “Sister, it is not the Eucharist you lack. What you lack is simply the priestly presence.” In that moment she realized she had been getting up early each morning for the presence of a priest instead of the presence of Jesus and God.
Chittister goes on to say, “I learned the lesson of my life that day. Obviously, there is a point when the old answers cease to work.” It was that day she began her own real authentic relationship with God, adding that for the first time she began to trust the questions themselves. “I began to realize that, in the end, we are each and all of us the real subject matter of the spiritual life.”
As a holy listener I am constantly looking for resources for my clients that will help them go deeper into their own relationship with God, as well as ways to express that experience. Here are a few ideas I have found helpful:
This website includes practices, e-courses, films, books, arts, quotes, blogs and explorations. I highly recommend it.
Our own national website has a good deal of resources as well.
She is a retreat leader, and singer and songwriter of powerful music.
Whatever you are doing for your own spiritual care, I hope you are doing something. If you are willing to share, it could really be valuable to share it with those of us who are always seeking new ways to be with God. It’s good
to be with you while having to be apart.
Robinmarie is a Spiritual Director and has had a private practice, A Flowing Spirit in Mission Viejo since 2012. She has served in the SCNC-UCC since 1984 and has been on staff as an Education Director for both youth and adult education ministries at Cdm Congregational and finally for 9 years at IUCC. She served in outdoor ministries for several years and was the director of operations and programs for Pilgrim Pines too. Robinmarie has been leading retreats for over 25 years and received her certification as a Spiritual Director from Stillpoint; the Center for Christian Spirituality in Pasadena in 2011. She enjoys collaborating with individuals and groups in creating sacred space for deepening relationships with God and is available through her website: www.aflowingspirit.com.