Soul Care Saturday – A Series for Faith Leaders:
As I lean into this beautiful metaphor, “Grace in the Greenhouse: Thriving Under Harsh Conditions,” I realize that though it is ALL GRACE which sustains us in the most challenging seasons of life, this is another one of those wonderful both/and scenarios!
(DELIGHTFUL SIDE RANT: I really do try to live in that happy “both/and” paradoxical place when it brings nuance and health and balance to my body, soul, and spirit. Of course there are things that do not fall into the both/and category – things we should not compromise or be radically open-minded about. But I am finding that list to be shorter and shorter, and my ability to see multiple perspectives at once and honor the nuance of it all whenever possible is a gift – a gift that helps me on my journey of knowing God more, loving and honoring His children more, and doing his work with humility and grace).
Back to the main point – you see, though it is ALL God’s grace, strength, and work in our lives that sees us through, there are ALSO at-the-very-same-time some beautiful “rule of life” structures that we can build into our lives that truly serve us during the rough patches of life.
How lovely that we can have these spiritual disciplines that we just practice on the ordinary Tuesdays of life – proactive, automatic, and muscle-memory practices – embedded into our souls. Then, when the harsh storms hit, we are not trying to throw those structures up at the last-minute.
To be honest, when we are hit sideways by those kinds of storms, we often just don’t have it in us to even THINK or PRAY or remain in our “wise mind.” We need the strength of God, the strength of wise counsel around us, and the strength that has been built over the weeks, months, and years of pressing in to these “rule of life” practices.
Some people may call these kinds of spiritual disciplines “rituals,” or “rote memorization,” or “empty and repetitive works,” and let’s be honest – they CAN be! But they can also be the disciplines that quietly build spiritual muscles every single time we lean into them.
Pete Scazzero, who wrote The Emotionally Healthy Leader, refers to this Rule of Life structure as a “trellis” of sorts. Isn’t that a beautiful word-picture? (The only thing better than a profound and spiritual metaphor is a metaphor-within-a-metaphor! haha).
These intentional practices, this pursuit of balance, these non-negotiable observances and values that we put into place in our lives are indeed sacred, and they can even be a part of the “saving grace” in the Greenhouse.
Here’s one of my very favorite spiritual practices, which I am attempting to incorporate into my life balance more and more. As a whole brained/mostly-right-brained person, it does not always come naturally to me to insert rituals and routine into my life. But these kinds of spiritual practices are actually quite poetic and creative and word-smith-y, so that helps me pursue them, remember to DO them, and enjoy them.
I hope this blesses you today!
THE DAILY EXAMEN:
What a beautiful and ancient prayer practice – this is a version of the five-step Daily Examen that St. Ignatius practiced.
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
I also love this part of the Examen – make a list of consolations and desolations. (I absolutely ADORE how Melo-dramatic and expressive these words are! haha!). Consolations are those things that happened in your day (or week) which filled you up or brought you comfort or joy. Desolations are the things that drained the living daylights out of you (what ARE the living daylights? I don’t know…but if my Grandma Nola said it, it must be a whole thing, a real and valid thing!). So, in addition to your gratitude journaling and lists, add Consolations and Desolations to the trellis of your life. This practice can help you stay authentic and vulnerable before the Lord, can help with self-awareness, self-compassion, and more!
With glistening hope,
For more beautiful prayer information and resources from the liturgical side of the family: www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignat…/the-examen/…