When I arrived at Academy #38 in the summer of 2016, I would say my soul was at peace each morning from praying with the monks at the Mission House, then walking around the lake at St. Benedict Center for 45 minutes. A great start to my day! But often that peace would leave me due to the stresses of ministry, living apart from my spouse, and typical family life. Looking back on those days, I would say that my prayers and walking kept me sane and connected with God, but life tried its hardest to unravel my peace on a daily basis.
Almost immediately I began "rediscovering" spiritual practices from seminary that I had set aside when life was "too busy." Journaling, fasting, creative writing (lyrics to a familiar tune), healing prayer. In a safe environment, I was invited during each session to go deeper. To work on my personal stuff. My shadow side. To seek the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and understanding in the now. And in the future. To explore or return to the less-utilized gifts God has given me and offer them to Christ’s service.
I began my Academy experience in August 2016. Little did I know that within four months my husband and I would learn he has a brain tumor. Little did we know that about a year later we would learn his tumor is malignant. I cannot begin to tell you how much strength, support, and shaping I have received through this Two Year Academy experience. The safety to ask deep questions of myself, the support of companions on this spiritual journey with me, the insights shared by faculty and sojourners alike have all made the journey to and through cancer not only bearable, but embraceable.
God loves me, as God loves all of God’s Dear Ones. God has always loved me, just as I am. Yet God is continually shaping and forming me, as I allow God to do so, more perfectly into the image of Christ. Less anger, frustration, doubt. More patience, compassion, faith. Less busyness for the sake of doing ministry. More deep listening to the Spirit and to companions on the journey of life. More confidence. More insight and understanding. More forgiveness. More peace.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat