Thursday, June 21, 2012

Listening to The Inner Voice

“Vocation …comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about-quite apart from what I would like it to be about-or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions.

“That insight is hidden in the word vocation itself, which is rooted in the Latin for voice.  Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear.”

These words, written by Parker Palmer in his book, Let Your Life Speak, brought on an “aha!!” moment for me. I am both a professional counselor and a life coach. One of the driving forces for me in my work is for persons to find their inner voice, their authentic self, and find words to name who they are and what they value. So, when I read how the word “vocation” and “voice” come from the same Latin word, it all made sense to me. Giving voice, one names what moves them, gives them reason for life and meaning to their being.

I know that when I was a child, probably elementary age, I knew that when I grew up I wanted to be an artist or a nurse. Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were young? So often, we can find hints of who we really are when we connect with who we were back in our childhood years. Even though I am not engaged with either of those vocations now, it reminds me that creativity and compassion and caring for others was a part of me even back then. At some point in our lives, for most of us anyway, we lose sight of who we are for what others say we are suppose to be. One of the statements in Palmer’s book suggests that the first half of our lives we strive to be the person we are told we are suppose to be, and the second half of our lives trying to reconnect with who we really are!!

So, if you ask me now what is important to me, I would thankfully still say creativity, compassion and add being genuine and having integrity. I also know that I would not have any of that if it wasn’t for the loving and often persistent nudge in my faith walk with God. I am blessed to be surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, past and present, to support, guide and remind me of this relationship with God.

So, if you were asked about your true vocation, what would you say? Are you listening to your inner voice? Who has God called you to be? What is the voice that calls you to your vocation? By listening to our voice, we do not just choose our life, we listen to the life that has chosen us and frees us to live more fully.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What Is Your Spiritual Type?

What does it mean to be “spiritual”??  Does it mean being able to sit quietly for a certain length of time each day in prayer? Does it require that I am actively involved in a community of faith? Does it mean that I think about God all my waking hours or offer confession at least once a week or take part in a Bible Study?

Any and all of these can be a part one’s spiritual growth, nurture and journey. So, yes, these are among the opportunities to inspire and grow one in their spirituality. On the other hand, no, this does not define one as “spiritual”. We can go through the movements, yet not be fully aware of ourselves as spiritual beings. I love Julian of Norwich’s statement that “All that is good is God, and all that is God is good”. Spirituality is so much more than anything we do or say or even understand.

Discover Your Spiritual Type is the name of a book I am reading by Corinne Ware (Alban Institute Publication, 1995). I find this an interesting idea-being a “spiritual type”. We who are in a faith community may talk about being “spiritual”. And many of us are realizing that taking care of our health includes our spiritual health. So the whole idea of being a spiritual being has found more groundedness and visibility in today’s society as we seek to a more wholistic health. But, what does it mean to be a “spiritual type”?

In Ware’s book, she uses the definition that states spirituality is “…all those attitudes and activities that characterize one’s attempts to make connection with Deity” (10). So those activities named above may be a part of one’s experience and expression of spirituality, yet spirituality is so much more. It seems when I give trainings or workshops that include something along the line of spiritual growth and spiritual experiences, those that attend are ones who appreciate quiet time in prayer and/or enjoy deep conversation of conceptual and intuitive, even mystical experiences. This isn’t everyone’s experience of their spirituality, however. Sometimes the Spirit can meet us in very tactile and structure forms and experiences.

So, if I were to ask you questions such as:

What connects you with God?
When are times you feel closest to God?
When and how do you like to pray?
What is meaningful worship for you?

I would guess I would get as many answers as I would get responses to these questions. Not everyone finds meaning and Spirit in the same experiences. Some folks like predictable liturgy. Some will like the free flow of the spirit in worship. Some may prefer a quiet room in prayer. Some may pray best while doing meaningful work.

Along with the use of the PeopleMap Personality Assessment, these are the types of questions that will be explored in a course I will be offering through Pinnacle Leadership Associates in the fall. I would love to hear responses to these questions and more on your personal experiences of awareness of what grows and nurtures you spiritually in your comments!