Last week I took a pilgrimage. After some helpful prodding and encouragement from my wife, I finally sought out a spiritual director again. When my ordination fiasco began in the fall of 2008, I decided it was important for me to process through the experience with someone who would help me listen for the voice of God amidst the chaos. Thus began a relationship with a spiritual director that lasted about 16 months. It was definitely helpful and helped me to clarify some things going on in my life at that time.
However, summer began, I had to cancel one appointment, and then…I just never got back in touch with my spiritual director. I suppose that’s the way it goes sometimes…we have good intentions and then life happens, and things kind of get thrown out of whack.
My initial desire to seek out that spiritual director arose out of a moment of crisis. I think those can often be very important times to meet with a spiritual director. But this time it was different.
I remember at a Youth Specialties conference when I first started in youth ministry after college. I heard someone talk about the spiritual life of someone in ministry by using the example that anyone who has flown on an airplane would be familiar with: “Please put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help anyone else with theirs.” The idea being that you will be pretty useless if you can’t breathe yourself.
The analogy to a life of ministry is obvious: if we’re not feeding our souls, aware of the presence of God in our own lives, how are we going to be able to help others to do the same?
So it was with this desire that I got on my scooter in Livermore and drove to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station. Then I took an hour long BART ride into San Francisco and got off at the Glen Park station. From there, it’s a half-mile walk straight uphill to my spiritual director’s house. It was a warm day when I did it and by the time I got to the top of the hill, I stopped at the corner for a few minutes so I didn’t knock on the door completely out of breath.
I mentioned on Twitter how I was going to be making this trek, and someone else commented that it was essentially a pilgrimage that I was doing. The dictionary defines pilgrimage as:
a journey, esp. a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion.
Both the time spent traveling to and from my spiritual direction appointment now has a sense of sacred time. After my appointment, I walked down the hill, grabbed dinner in this very funky little corner coffeehouse that served crepes for dinner and began the journey home. It did – in a way – feel like thin time: time that I was alone, focused on myself, thinking about our conversation, the various invitations that my director gave me.
And so it begins – a new relationship with a new spiritual director…a bit further than my previous director geographically, but in the end, I think it will be time well spent as I make the journey. I’m excited about what I am going to learn about myself and God and am open to the new ways in which the Spirit wants to be working in my life.