The Sponge Was Full

I’ll bet some of you thought this blog was dead. I thought so too, but maybe it won’t be much longer. This summer has seemed like a pivotal time for me. After four years of seminary and one year in the Wellstreams program, I felt saturated and tired. Tired from the effort of all that practice and study while trying to have a normal family life and work a full time job, and saturated with so much good information and experience picked up from five years study of, and practice in, spiritual formation. The crisis that helped bring me in to that phase of my life seems more in the background these days. Not that I’ve conquered it, but I think that I have begun to see ways of accepting it, making sense of it, and using its influence to push me in the direction of greater spiritual growth and a stronger, more well grounded faith.

This spring, Toward the end of Phase 1 of Wellstreams, I started a discernment process that led to my decision to discontinue the program. Phase 2 would have kept me in the saturation process for another two years. There were several reasons, circumstances and events that led to the decision not to continue. It wasn’t just the feeling that I couldn’t go on this way for two more years. But after soaking up so much for so long, it seemed like time to start an outflow, both for the benefit of others and to make room in me for fresh “living water” (John 4:10-14) and turn this sponge into a fountain. I still think training in spiritual direction is in my future, but perhaps in a less intensive venue. For now I need to find more of my own direction to provide a context from which to help others. After so long, I’ve felt spiritually disconnected in a way, rootless. It’s time to put into practice more deeply what I’ve learned in a way that is more driven by God’s intentions for my life than by the specific requirements of a class or training program (I’m reminded of Psalm 1:2-3 here). It’s time to be open to the the possibilities that are hard to notice or consider when one’s life is so full of other things. I enjoyed the Wellstreams classes and will miss my classmates who will go on without me. I think I made some good friends there and I hope our paths will cross again. But rarely has a decision like this seemed so clear to me as to seem like God is really up to something in it. Pray for me and for Mary Beth too, please.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about having more time off this summer is getting to to more discretionary reading instead of assigned reading (and writing). I’ve been using Shelfari for a while to keep track of my reading, but I’ve recently copied it to Goodreads to try that out. So many good books … so little time to read them all. I hope to be doing more discretionary writing too. Some of it should find its way to this space.

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One Response to The Sponge Was Full

  1. David Henne says:

    HI, Paul. I have a good feeling about your decision to shift to a “fountain” phase in your life. I think you are ready for that as a result of the training and discipline that you have experienced the last few years. I trust God’s Spirit now to lead you into a way to pass on what you hae gained, for the growth of others and the glory of God. Of course, you have been doing that all along, unconsciously, in various ways, in work and family and church. And now is the opportunity to do this in some way in more dedicated time. I know God will lead you, brother. — David

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