Spiritual Directors International

The Home of Spiritual Companionship

How’s Your Contemplative Dashboard?

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv

My car is now giving me praise. We recently purchased a hybrid, and at the end of each trip, the dashboard displays all sorts of information about distance, average speed, and fuel consumption. Best of all, if I drive more efficiently than forty miles per gallon, “Excellent!” appears in big letters across the console. A momentary thrill.

I admit to being a little embarrassed by how much I enjoy getting kudos from my hybrid. In some ways we are so simple. We want to do the just thing, to live in right relationship, to be compassionate and caring. Yet often we don’t receive much feedback about how we are doing day to day. Discerning how to make choices with integrity can feel daunting.

That’s why my car’s kudos feel so good. We need encouragement. The hybrid teaches me daily to become more efficient at driving. With regular feedback, living into my desire to consume less has become a game. 

Meeting regularly with a spiritual director gives us an opportunity to periodically examine our contemplative dashboard. Since the last time I met with my spiritual director, what has been the quality of the energy given to God? To my family and neighbors? To myself? Have I been caught up in unnecessary guilt for not doing or being enough, expending energy that is difficult to restore? When have I allowed God’s invitations to slow down, dawdle, and putter to overtake my harried pace?

Creating a sacred time and place to pause and look into our contemplative dashboard provides invaluable pointers for the journey. Sharing with a spiritual director what is really happening in our relationship with God makes honest feedback possible. No matter how many bumps on the road, spiritual directors continue to offer the compassionate kudos that keeps us growing in love and service, mile after mile.

Reflection:

What’s the status of your contemplative dashboard? When’s the last time you met with your spiritual director for a tune-into your relationship with God?

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