Spiritual Transformation - Growing Against the Grain
Editor's note: This post comes from one of our members. The project discussed here is not a Spiritual Directors International project, nor is it sanctioned by our nonprofit organization. We do, however, want to share the stories of our members. In fact, we see it as part of our mission. We offer this post now in that spirit.
When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.
~ Chinese Proverb
Letting go. Inviting in. Embracing change. Easy words, hard actions. The ability to let go of long held beliefs and ideas and fully embrace and welcome those that yesterday were unknown can challenge our hearts, minds, and souls. Technological advances have pushed our world forward at a remarkable pace. I grew up in a world devoid of smart phones, voice mail, Instagram, or Twitter accounts. Instead of texts or emails, we wrote letters with a pen and paper that were stamped and sent through the U.S. Mail. To communicate with someone in the neighborhood we walked to their house and knocked on the door. It was a different time in countless ways.
Now, in my sixth decade of life, I have found myself wanting to keep pace with change and enjoy the benefits of new methods of communicating. This has demanded that I open my mind to learning about computers and phones that are much smarter than I am. I had to learn to grow new branches, so to speak, while maintaining the old root system. The times they are a-changing at an amazing pace. More than 2,500 years ago the Greek philosopher Heraclitus told us that change is the only constant in life. Change, and the admonition to embrace it are certainly not new concepts.
While this is certainly true for our technological advances, I find it also to be true for my spiritual life. Over these past several years I have finally given in to those questions that had lain quiet and dormant in the back of mind about my long held Christian beliefs. It was time to give attention to these roots and find the courage to address what I felt needed to be reassessed. Even though in many ways it has been a painful time of gestation and birthing, I have found myself walking a new path that has led me to an inter-spiritual faith. I had to allow my roots to become a foundational source of nourishment for the branches that were beginning to form. I had to allow myself to open to new ways of inviting in the Divine.
Parker Palmer, in Let Your Life Speak, so beautifully sums up what often occurs as we find ourselves taking those next steps on our spiritual path. “As often happens on the spiritual journey, we have arrived at the heart of a paradox: each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up. All we need to do is stop pounding on the door that just closed, turn around – which puts the door behind us – and welcome the largeness of life that now lies open to our souls. The door that closed kept us from entering a room, but what now lies before us is the rest of reality.”
Going against the grain of our culture or of our society can be a painful process demanding courage and strength. The stories of others who have gone before me have been a foundational rock and a great source of courage to, but I need more stories.
Many of us, as spiritual directors, have heard stories from our directees who are struggling with similar times of shedding the old and growing new beliefs. I find that these stories of transformation are in all of us in some way. I am on a quest to find the people who are willing to share their stories. It is my desire to compile these in book form that will be available as inspiration and courage for those days when sitting alone in these liminal spaces may be too hard to honor.
What is your story? Have you felt stirrings that have prompted you to make a shift from your roots to new branches? When have you felt the winds of change blowing your spirituality in a different direction? What propelled you forward to perhaps a shift of religious denomination, perhaps to no denomination, or into an entirely new belief system? Have you had to pay a “pearl of great price” to make this shift?
I would love to talk with you and perhaps include your story along with others who have stepped onto a new path. All stories of this journey are welcome, from those of the darkest of nights to those that may have been an easier evolution. Your story is truly a piece of the universal bricolage of spirituality. Your story is important. You do make a difference.
Will you please contact me? I would love to hear from you, and I promise that I will be gentle with your shy soul.
Grace Bishop is a writer who is eager to listen to other spiritual directors who have taken a turn on their spiritual journey and are walking a different path than they may have anticipated. She is working on a book project of a collection of stories of people who have gone "against the grain" of their culture, perhaps to be in this new spiritual place.