I was at clergy meeting the other day at which a guest speaker talked about spirituality. I think, and I lost concentration at about sentence two so I may be wrong, that we were being encouraged to make time for our own spirituality in order to sustain ourselves in our demanding roles.
I used to do a job training youth leaders. From time to time this involved talking to clergy about youth-work. I discovered, quite early on, that if I talked specifics I often got the reply 'That won't work here mate and I'll tell you why.' Not always so politely. So I spoke in general terms and principles and allowed others to do the application to their local situation. This had some success.
I think this is what our guest speaker was doing the other day although her precise generalisations (can't believe I wrote that, sorry) were hard to pin down. Elusive wisps of thoughts and ideas came and went, every one of them, sending my mind off on a journey to a better place. Maybe this is what a spirituality adviser should do. But the result was that when we were asked to respond to what she had said I had no idea what the question was. It seemed that most others in the room, with the exception of some of the more recently ordained clergy, knew what to talk about at this point.
The more they spoke the more I thought I wouldn't because I would seem weird. I get this a lot. So I wrote a bit. This usually helps. Just now I found my notes. It occurs to me that discovering others who saw the world my way might be an encouragement. So here, with a bit of tidying, is what I wrote:
What sort of spirituality do you identify with?
Which do you prefer? I do not engage with life as a series of preferences. My life is not especially binary, digital. If given a series of choices I will often make one, but not out of long-term established principle; merely then and there. Tea or coffee? Chips or mash? Bath or shower? Silence or company? Read or write? Mercedes or VW? (That one's real, current and hard.)
If given a choice of yellow and any other colour, yellow will usually lose. But asked to choose between any other two colours I will probably not have a favourite.
Our speaker just said, 'If I am not astonished (by the world) I am not paying attention.' What has astonished me this week? Nothing. Some people find this question easy. I am not often shocked (although I don't like horror movies so tend to avoid trying to be shocked) and the opposite is also true. I am rarely astonished. Being astonished has just been equated with paying attention. I think I am permanently curious but rarely astonished. The world has a consistency about it such that only the miraculous and street magic (trickery) astonishes me. Since 'astonished' is such a wrong word for me I find the question hard.
So I won't usually hate a week but neither will I instantly and clearly be able to tell you what was the best bit. I wonder if seeing the world in terms of being rather than doing (which I be) makes it peculiarly difficult to identify the best doings of the week. What was the best bit of last week? Being me. It was great. I have eyes and opposable thumbs. Ain't that the dogs?
So what is my response to questions such as, 'What sort of spirituality do you identify with?' It's difficult. All of them. None of them.
If there are any people out there who understand this and would like to talk about it please get in touch. Use the comments box, tweet @s1eve or pick any other way you know.
And nobody mentioned Jesus, once.