Don’t Tell Me What to Do

Yes, I was a willful child.

I could tell you stories of resisting suggestions, needing to have it my way, or insisting I do something without help. Even though I am sure it appeared as if I could use a hand, or a change of attitude, or even a fresh perspective.

Was it my Irish-German DNA? My budding perfectionism? To some extent, it matters not. Whatever its source, the “don’t tell me what to do/think/feel” response was well anchored in me.

And not until I woke up years later, to its deleterious effects, was I willing to try something new.

As I sat at a meeting today, reading the 12 steps, I was struck by the curious fact that they are all written in the past tense.

“We admitted that we were powerless…”

“Came to believe…”

“Made a decision…”

In a way that strikes me as very tribal, very primal, the steps recount how the founders did it. It’s a retelling around a metaphorical campfire. We listen to how it happened for them, and by extension, how it can happen for us. No matter my condition, one or more of them ring true on any given day.

What I love about hearing people speak is the experiential witness to what the steps have done, are doing, in their lives. Very much the same as what I hear when sharing Spiritual Autobiographies with others. Or, in deep and intimate conversations with soul friends. Not to be too reductive, but it often sounds wonderfully the same…”here’s where I was; here’s what happened (and how); here’s where I am today”.

Here’s how the Divine, the power greater than myself, the Great Mystery, has moved in my life, and how I allowed it to do so. And, rarely are there any “shoulds” involved. Which, to this still somewhat willful child, is a blessing.

About Soul Intention

"Spirituality is, ultimately, about what we do with...desire. What we do with our longings, both in terms of handling the pain and the hope they bring us, that is our spirituality." from The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser. Paraphrasing what Gerald May has said, in his book Will and Spirit, spirituality is our experience and interpretation of our relationship with the Sacred. The intent of this blog is to explore for myself, and to invite others to explore with me, just what is it we do with our desire? What is our spirituality? Mine has been shaped by many things...in my formative years, by the Roman Catholic church. In the last decade, by the 12 steps. Most recently, by the Episcopal Church. And, always, always, by the sense that Nature helped to reveal the Great Mystery, of which we are all a part. So, my spirituality includes concrete practices, like the Steps, as well as probing more philosophical matters. I was certified, in January 2011, as a Spiritual Director by the Haden Institute. During those 21 months of study, which included a broad range of topics from Celtic Spirituality, to the Christian Mystics, to Jungian Depth psychology, I was given the space and time to ponder my own spiritual journey, hear about others' paths, and benefit from participation in an intentional community. My hope is that this blog can engender a similar conversation. Peace, Paul
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