by JoAnn Campbell-Rice

Recently, several planned events disappeared from my calendar and I found myself with unscheduled time, a luxury in my life. Yet I didn’t run to my desk to write, revise, or draft new ideas, which is what I say I want do with every spare moment.  My resistance to writing baffles me, even as it’s so familiar it no longer surprises.  Perhaps you too find yourself running from what your heart desires—more time in prayer, meditation, movement, reading, seeing friends or starting spiritual direction.

The holidays are a time when we tend to focus externally, yet in the dark and cold of Minnesota, I’m invited to go within.  When I don’t do that, but instead buy something more, decorate another corner of the house, or distract myself with social media, I feel lonely. I’m actually missing myself, the self that knows, that’s ok not knowing, that’s curious and delighted. When I don’t write, I’m also missing a chance to become consciously aware of the divine. While I journal every day, without daily revising, I tend to bang about the world on the surface, slightly irritated or anxious.

The page is the place I hear guidance, am reassured that all is well, or see what actions to take to right something off kilter.  Similarly, the unstructured monthly hour of spiritual direction offers me time to follow my narrative thread and to notice connections overlooked during busy days. We humans are meaning-making creatures, and for some of us writing and talking, reflecting and listening, creating art or savoring the natural world are paths to constructing meaning. Once part of a larger narrative, I no longer feel alone.

When I turn away from these opportunities, my loneliness reveals, as the poet Hafiz suggests, “my absolute need for God.” Today I pray for the willingness to say yes. What invitation are you ready to accept?