A few days ago, feeling alone and without answers, I likened how I felt to being on Massachusetts Bay.
When I was a child, we spent our summers in Brewster on Cape Cod, and I have strong memories of walking out into the Bay at low tide – it was very flat, and it seemed that the sand went on for miles. Indeed, I suspect it did… we would walk for hours, digging for clams, feeling the moist sand under our feet, seeing the waves at some distance from us. Usually, we walked back in long before the tide itself came in (although there was one instance where that was in some question – apparently Mom was much more scared than she let on).
Anyway… Saturday night, feeling alone and unnoticed by God, I used this metaphor…that I was walking out into the bay, with the tide always going out, knowing God had been there because I could hear the roar of the waves and feel the moistness of the sand…but the further I walked, the further the tide rolled out. It was as though i could never catch it…and that the tide…God…would never come back to meet me even a little bit.
A lonely, exhausting, fruitless feeling.
The next morning, I went to church, feeling exhausted and a bit beaten up spiritually. I was slated to speak about stewardship during the service – why I give of my time, talent, and treasure. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but once I got there, and looked around at these people who had provided just what I needed, i realized that God was there – in their faces, in their hearts. I got weepy while I tlaked about giving of myself and getting bounty in return, for right there – in front of me, I was getting even as I gave.
Perhaps the lesson here is that the tide DOES always come in… the oceans and seas teach us of the constancy, the ebb and flow…. the tide will come in. It may take a while, and it may seem that the low tide lasts so much longer than it should… but the tide will roll in.
Now the second part of this tide is my conversation last night with my new spiritual director, Erik Wikstrom. We are meant to have a spiritual director as part of our Wellsprings program. I chose Erik from a list of local and not-local directors; we had originally tried to connect over a year ago, but it wasn’t right. Now, it was.
Erik listened patiently to my story – the spiritual journey, the seeking, the life events that brought me here, the tragedies and hardships, and the sense that I can no longer ignore the call to ministry.
He said three things that gave me pause…and which tell me the tide IS rolling in.
First, he said that I have already answered the call – I have been ministering to people for a long time, whether through pagan circles, or speaking at churches, offering the kinds of support and guidance I have offered informally through the years. He suggested the question is not “is there a call to answer” but rather “what shape will it take now”… will it go toward formal ordination or something less formal?
The second point he made is that it’s not going to be this question that will likely dominate our conversations. Rather, it will be my anger toward God and learning how to better communicate with the Divine.
Thirdly, he heard my spiritual exhaustion. He agreed I needed to stop journeying and rest at the oasis for a while. He confirmed my feelings of needing to stop and listen. And I think he’s happy to sit next to me and help me hear.
So.. we will sit. We will listen to the still small voice…and watch the tide roll in.