First Reading of Cross Roads

My friend Linda lent me her copy of Cross Roads, by Wm. Paul Young, well known for his earlier book The Shack.

Young was enchanting in The Shack for how he presented the characters of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and the same is true here, though we never see Papa God in Cross Roads. What we are told about Papa God, however, is “despite everything you believe about him or don’t, and by the way, almost nothing you believe about him is true … regardless, Papa God cares for you with relentless affection.”

Young’s story is one of personal transformation, as was my own novel, Dancing on the Whisper of God. In my story, the transformation occurs in the context of choreography, ballet, and musical composition. In Young’s book, the transformation occurs as a result of a medical emergency that puts Tony, the lead character, in the presence of divinity, including an extraordinary pipe-smoking fellow from Ireland (an angel, I presume) named Jack.

I’m going to read the book again to clear up my understanding of Jack, but I especially liked Jack’s reassurance to Tony: “You must remember, Tony, that there is not one good thing, or memory, or act of kindness, not one thing that is true and noble and right and just, that will be lost.”

And the things that aren’t good? We all have those in our lives too – what about them? Jack explains: “… God is able to transform these into … icons and monuments of grace and love.”

           

A Day for Remembering

In the United States today is the federal holiday called Memorial Day. When I was growing up, my mother was just as likely to call it Decoration Day. It was her day to honor the family ancestors, whether they had passed recently or decades earlier.

We visited two or three graveyards, and she knew exactly where to go at each one to find the graves of relatives. At each site she placed flowers from her garden and took a few moments for private memorialization.

We were not a military family, though both my brothers served, so Mother’s focus for Memorial Day did not have the more-common military emphasis. It was simply her day to honor all the people she had once loved who were gone from life. She spent the whole day doing it. It was part of her spiritual practice.

I believe that this honoring of loved ones who had passed was part of what made my mother compassionate and tolerant toward those still living. This alone made it a worthy practice.

           

Why Do People Sign on for Spiritual Direction?

When you contact a spiritual director, you can expect that one of the first questions you will be asked is: “What are you looking for in spiritual direction?” Another way the question may be asked is: “What do you hope to accomplish in spiritual direction?”

In the past, my own answer to this question when I was the directee has probably been a little vague, which isn’t uncommon. So much of our spirituality isn’t really rational, so why would we think we would always have a reasoned, rational explanation for where we are spiritually? My answers have usually been along the lines of: “Guidance is a good thing, especially in something as important as my spirituality.” Sometimes people I’ve seen as directees have been a little more direct: “I’ve been feeling a little lost lately, and I think that spiritual direction will help me get more grounded.” One person said, “It’s time I did a little growing.”

After a hiatus of a few years, I recently resumed being a directee myself—in large part because I see directees on an ongoing basis and know that it is important to be in direction at the same time. This time when that question came addressed to me, an answer came readily to my lips, even though I had not thought about it ahead of time. “Because I need a place where I can be in conversation about spirituality.”

This is a new answer. I’m no longer looking for a one-directional situation, in which I am simply a receiver, whether a receiver of direction, advice, grounding, support, reinforcement, or whatever. Now I am looking for the mutual, two-directional situation. I want to talk with someone who speaks the same language, will understand what I am talking about, will know how to address the subjects that are important to me, and will be able to receive from me as much as I receive from her/him.

If you think you might be interested in spiritual direction, check out Spiritual Directors International (website: http://www.sdiworld.org/) to find out more about the practice. Especially look at the Seek and Find Guide to find spiritual directors in your area. Click on the tab “Find a Spiritual Director” to access the Guide.