On my bedroom dresser there is a rock. It has been there a long time. I’m not good at remembering dates, but it’s from the time when I was seeing a spiritual director. That means this small, not very pretty rock has moved between my dresser and the bookcase for almost twenty years.
I decided to give spiritual direction a try because I needed something. My life was routine, busy, and full of people, but I felt empty, disconnected, and alone. The Hyde Park School of Spiritual Direction was offering reduced rates to people willing to work with spiritual direction students practicing their skills. Sister Victoria was soft spoken with a welcoming smile and a nonjudgmental demeanor. My 50 minutes with her every couple of weeks somehow started to shift how I viewed my mundane world. She held what I shared with such tenderness and care that I came to believe that my trivial routines and the emptiness I brought was somehow precious.
As graduation neared, the school hosted a reception to celebrate and reflect on the time we had spent together. When we entered the reception area, we were instructed to select a rock from the pile in the center of the room. We were to hold our rock, roll it around in our hands, and get to know its bumps, cracks, and unique form. After group activities, reflection, and feedback, we were to write one word on the rock: a word that spoke of our time in direction.
The word that has greeted me each morning and nudged me every night is “connectedness.” When I am tempted to retreat into my lonely, isolated world, my rock reminds me of the warm, inviting, and life giving connectedness I experienced with Sister Victoria as she gently validated my life.
Over the past eight months, our Loaves and Fishes group has become another type of connecting place. A spot where once a month, 10 to 15 very different people come together and explore wild ideas, share honest feelings, and affirm one another.
Whatever we decide, the Atrium money will be used well if, through it, the preciousness of people’s lives is validated and we are engaged in life-giving connectedness.
Captain, Cardinalfish Prayer School