A few reflections I wrote up for you to discuss with a Spiritual Friend or to individually reflect upon during this season of Lent. Blessings for the week!
“The human spirit is naturally generous; the instant we are filled, our first impulse is to be useful, to be kind, to give something away.” (Wayne Muller, Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest, p. 11).
1. Observe a period of silence for 5-10 minutes in which you seek to read the measurement of your spirit. Recall the times in the past week when you have felt spiritually full – nourished. Recall the times in the past week when you have felt depleted – wrung out with nothing left to give.
2. Contemplate those moments of feeling depleted. What circumstances led to each of those moments? Did you notice being depleted and if so, what did you do? If you didn’t notice being depleted, why not?
3. Many things put demands on us. Many things can weary our spirits: the constant needs of small children, an aging parent, chronic pain, personality differences with a co-worker, financial struggles, regrets over the past, physical conditions, feelings of being stuck without a hopeful future, even negative views of God. Which circumstances are a part of your daily life that leave your spirit depleted?
4. Contemplate those personal moments of feeling full – spiritually nourished. What was happening that led to those moments of feeling full? Where are you, who are you with, what are you doing? Do you notice a pattern or trend regarding that which fills or nourishes your spirit?
5. In what ways do these moments of being full, lead you to being poured out? In what ways do they move you to generosity of your time, talents, or treasures?
Philippians 2:7 states that Jesus emptied himself. In many ways, he poured himself out over and again each day. At the same time, we see throughout the gospels that he repeatedly spent time alone in prayer or sought connection with God away from the crowds. His life perfectly models the balance of being filled only to give himself away then in turn to be re-filled only to pour himself out again. He did this as an act of faithfulness; for only that which is full can be poured out.
6. How are you doing with the balance? What might you do to improve your balance?
TO GET INTO IT ANOTHER WAY (for individual reflection):
At the beginning of the week, get a clear (see-through) glass or pitcher. Set it on a napkin or piece of paper with your name and the quote for the week written on it. (If you live with others, mark it so that no one else will use it or explain to them you are doing a spiritual experiment for the week and you would appreciate if others did not bother your glass/pitcher.) Take a moment to assess your spirit’s measure; then fill the clear glass or pitcher with an amount of water that seems to match your spirit’s feel of fullness or depletion. At various moments throughout the day, return to your glass/pitcher to re-assess and re-fill or lessen the level of the water. Be sure to do the same before you go to sleep for the night. If you work outside the home, do this at least before you leave for the day, when you arrive back home, and before you retire for the night. You might want to keep a log of the level in a journal. Pay attention to how your levels fluctuate throughout the day and week and what in particular is causing that. Note any correlation between the water’s level and your desire to be useful, kind, or be giving something away.
FOR ACTION (for individual reflection):
During a time when your spirit feels full or nourished this week, spend 30 minutes with someone who you love – a dear friend, a child, a spouse, your pet, or maybe just your self – or even God. After the time together, reflect upon the experience noting if and how the interaction differed due to your full spirit.