Yesterday was the Third Week Seminar -- the seminar at the beginning of the Third Week of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises that I'm doing with HeartPaths Spirituality Center.
The main focus, as we enter the week of accompanying Jesus into Jerusalem, was an exercise on compassion. The leaders had prepared a large and beautiful circle; it took up half of a very large fellowship hall in the church where we met. In the center of the circle was a table with a tall candle surrounded by a multitude of unlit candles.
The north side of the circle had a table decorated with a globe; the west side had a set up symbolizing community or neighborhood; on the south was a table with a photograph of a family gathering, and on the east was a lovely table with a mirror in the center.
Our assignment was to travel to each table and pray for an increase in our compassion for the world, for our neighborhoods/communities, for our families, and for ourselves. Then to move to the center, light a candle and pray for compassion for Jesus as he faced his Passion. We were then to take our candle and make our way to another part of the room and journal about our experience.
Wow. I prayed at each station for several minutes, beginning at the north end. I was the first out of about 30 students to enter the circle, so I had the first two stations pretty much to myself, but at the third station, *family*, I realized that about half of the other students were standing outside the circle, silently praying for those of us inside it. Very moving.
Each of the stations evoked something powerful within me -- four out of five were feelings of sadness, pain. Along with many of the other students, I wept.
The neighborhood/community station, though, brought feelings that were positive. What came to me was to pray for my church. The search committee thinks that it will probably have a candidate to present to the congregation for a vote by the end of April. With a two-month termination clause in his/her current contract, the candidate will come on board as the church's permanent called pastor sometime in June. So.... most likely I have about four months left with this congregation. Not long.
But I've been working very hard at all the issues surrounding my having become the Interim, and while much of that is not bloggable, I can say that I've experienced significant healing. I realized Saturday while praying at that station that I feel a fabulous spaciousness within me now -- a new and most welcome feeling!
Instead of dreading leaving, I find myself thinking of all kinds of healthy, fun, and creative ways to help this church let me go and welcome the new pastor with open arms. I'm sure that when the time comes to leave there will be some tears, but I feel ready to let go and move on to something else. Yay!
Most grateful to the HeartPaths leadership for this exercise yesterday.