In most of my posts on this blog I had envisioned staying on topic or presenting my thoughts on a faith issue, instead of a personal, slice of life reflection. I already have a personal blog and this one being different enables me to explore life a bit differently, while also reaching out to others to present their writing here from time to time.
There’s the challenging word: time. I haven’t written on here since June. Time has passed and here I am breaking the fourth wall because I didn’t think I could jump back into another blog post without an explanation. Where have I been? Where has the time gone?
I’m still exploring, sometimes sitting still with, sometimes grasping, sometimes feeling overwhelmed by life, God/dess, philosophies, theories, religion, and more. I’ve talked about deconstruction here and, for me, what lies beyond is beginning to reveal itself.
Having divested myself of the constraints of church attendance (thank you COVID-19 Pandemic) and leaned into the periods of isolation and loneliness of the last two years, I found myself… ready. Ready for what? Ready for something more to learn, to do, to grow into – I couldn’t quit name it. Amidst social unrest over myriad issues, I pursued reading on topics of interest from restorative justice, the science of public health, behavioural psychology, government communication and more. I felt unfocused, but well-meaning and enthusiastic.
Then a cool thing happened. The program I had been interested in two years ago (which decided not to run right before the pandemic hit here in Manitoba) opened up again, fully online, and was looking for applicants.
Shekinah Formation is a legacy program from the recently closed St. Benedict’s Monastery & Retreat Centre. It is rooted in the Christian contemplative tradition and Benedictine hospitality, and is informed by a deep commitment to the interconnectedness of spirituality and social justice.
The name “Shekinah” was gifted to the group by a member of the Jewish community in Winnipeg. She described Shekinah as the “…Feminine Facet of the Divine in Jewish Mystical (Kabbalistic) thought. She is a part of G*d that chose exile when the people were banished from their Land. She journeys with the people in their wandering. She is close at hand or perhaps She can be understood as G*d imminent…”
I had known for a long time now that I needed a teacher. I hadn’t been able to find satisfactory teaching for me in my faith tradition for years. Indeed, I had recently left our community church of ten years. When I heard Shekinah was taking students again, I thought, “Could I have found a teaching environment for my wild thoughts? Will they even have me?” To my surprise, they took me on and don’t even think my thoughts are wild (so far, I think).
Shekinah is rooted in the Christian contemplative tradition and informed by Benedictine spirituality & hospitality, the teachings of Jung, wisdom from the Enneagram, principles of restorative justice, the discipline of reflective practice, embodied spirituality and wisdom from Christian mystics and prophets.
Some of the topics I explore with Shekinah are ones I have already been versed in for a time. Some push my envelope and ask me, ‘How big do you think God/dess is?’
I’m seeing a Spiritual Director for the first time in my life and the end goal of Shekinah is for me to have the skills to become a Spiritual Director as well. I’m not sure yet what that looks like for me, but I am certain I’ve found a fit for my search to continue, for now tended by the advisors in this program.
So now you know where my time and energy has been going.
December has given me two words that form the basis for my times of meditation and they are: appreciate and cultivate. I am appreciating where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I’m going. I am tending seeds of new growth in my spirit and am not as shy to move beyond what is comfortable or what has previously served to protect me.
The program has demanded both more and less of me than I imagined. What “in-class” time commitment it lacks, it more than makes up for in independent reading, meditation and self-exploration. I’ve got a lot to do, but I haven’t forgot about this platform sitting here. More than a few have expressed appreciation for the public exploration of challenging topics I’m willing to do. I always want my reflections to be worded in the best (most authentic and at least somewhat decently researched) way possible. If that holds me back from being prolific on the Thistle I apologize.
I believe I actually thought that the most essential themes to explore would reveal themselves in a few nicely put together articles, three or four at most. And then we could move on to a wide variety of lighter or safer or otherwise side topics. Now let’s have a laugh at that.
Compared to the previous six months, I’m hopeful to contribute a few more articles. I am appreciating there is still something here to explore and possibly a few readers who will notice and/or enjoy. I’m cultivating the time and discipline to return to this platform. Can I get a “hear hear” comment from everyone who needs to find the oomph to start over (and over and over)?
This means I know this blog is off to a slow start. And that’s OK. I am emerging on the other side of this deconstruction thing – which is absolutely OK. I also feel social media is changing and so the landscape for these types of discussions and platforms will continue to change as well. I’m discerning what and how I envision the new conduct on the blog and its adjacent social media to be.
What’s not changing is my passion for digging into three main areas:
- Liberal Theology. To me this very broadly means the ability to do contextual bible study and take into consideration modern knowledge, science and ethics.
- Liberation Theology (or restorative justice).
- Feminist theology (or egalitarianism).
So stick around and hopefully this ‘breaking the fourth wall’ post will allow me to break the writer’s block somewhat. Lord knows I’ve got things to say.