Rekindling

Rekindling is the word that surfaced today in talking with my spiritual mentor. I was thinking aloud about my desire to rekindle a writing practice. This reminded me of a story from my long-ago Girl Scout Days.

As a Senior in High School I was privileged to be selected for All States Encampment, a three-week experience in the Nantahala National Forest (Cherokee name for Land of the Noonday Sun) in North Carolina. Girl Scouts  from across the country were joined by Girl Guides from across international lines.

We were divided into several Troops; each Troop had 4 Patrols; each Patrol had 8 young women. During the first week we got to know each other and planned an 8-day backpacking trip through the Forest. Each of us participated in camp chores, and each of us filled a particular position. I became the fire starter because I did it pretty well. I had learned to lay out the kindling first, leave room for air flow, and gradually add enough wood for our next meal. At night I banked the embers to make it easier to rekindle the next morning.

Then for 8 days we hit the trail with all the gear and food needed. Once we lost the trail and had to retrace our steps in pitch darkness. After every day of hiking, it was good to pitch camp for the night and fix a tasty meal. It was my job, of course, to lay the fire with wood all of us had gathered. We took turns cooking and washing up with hot water.

Our route finally led us back to base camp and that felt like coming home. We replenished food supplies from the commissary and compared stories with other campers as they returned. It was all a wonderful experience. I had several opportunities to share my story with younger groups of girls during that summer after high school.

After one year of college I went back to North Carolina as a camp counselor. This time I was a hiking instructor at Rockbrook Camp for Girls near Brevard, NC. What fun we had! My experience at All States Encampment rekindled my love of camping and hiking.

These memories have stayed with me for decades even though they were buried along with the ashes of our campfire. I hadn’t thought of them for years.

Kindling and rekindling have new meaning for me as I consider rekindling my own spirit within. We all have it, you know, an inner spirit that sustains us and moves us in one direction or another.

For the past six years (and throughout my ministry since 1993) I have been moved to explore spiritual growth in myself and others. It is the basis for my current vocation as a spiritual companion and one who is also companioned by others.

Isn’t that how we grow? Self-reflection is a part, companionship is a part, and the wide universe accompanies us all.

Spiritual Companion

For the past three years I was enrolled in a course of study called Formation in Direction. Nine of us students graduated in June 2018 as Spiritual Directors. That’s an old term for something that has existed for centuries: meeting with folks in a comfortable environment in which they can explore their spiritual lives and matters of the heart. I feel comfortable with the term Spiritual Companion, because even though I am helping others think about spirituality, I am learning from them as well.

As children we acquire a view of the universe, the nature of God/Goddess/Yhwh/El Shaddai/Spirit/Allah/Ra/Jesus/Big Bang/Mystery/The Maker/The Kind . . . and on through dozens of names that try to capture ultimate meaning in a way that makes sense to us. As we grow older, many of us learn that there are as many ways to understand questions like these: Where did we come from? What is our purpose? Why do bad things happen? What happens when we die? Should we pray, and how? To whom?

We wonder whether our lives reflect our values. We are often way too busy for reflection, anyway!

With the help of my own Spiritual Director (for 3 years so far), I have developed new spiritual practices; I have heard and read poetry that taps wordless parts of me; and I have seen how ordinary routines, done mindfully, can also be spiritual. Our monthly meetings have gradually shaped my daily life to be more centered, mindful, and spirit-filled. It has been a good investment.

Now I’m ready to offer that guidance to others.¬† Through this blog and through sessions with individuals or small groups, let’s learn together about spirituality that goes far beyond religious beliefs.