“The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are. (Marcus Aurelius)
In the past, I have had no success in conquering the first rule of Aurelius. Therefore, I have not been able to proceed to the second rule. When in the past, due to an unsettled spirit, a metaphorical/existential fork in the road has appeared before me, my spirit has imploded. This is no way to live. Too many forks in the road, too many decisions to be made to have a troubled spirit. That’s why I decided to seek out the spirit and confront it head on. And as a result of this quest, I have found my trust in hope.
In 2014, I had the last of three surgeries to address a very painful lower back. I realized as I was recovering, I would not be able to resume my duties as a full time pastor. So I took a year off to recuperate. At the end of that year, my body had healed as thoroughly as it would, but at the expense of my spirit. Hence, I decided it was time to retire and it was finally time to confront my spirit.
I wish I had found a handbook for the task of doing battle with the spirit. Friends suggested various resources, but all lacked the unknown component for which I searched. In the journey to do battle with the spirit, I re-discovered prayer. I don’t mean the polite entreaty to God to bring me peace and calm. I mean the active dialogue with God that exposes one’s core beliefs and values.
I blogged about that experience back in March in my blog post titled, “Simple Things In Which To believe.” That led to my finishing a rough draft of a book that hopefully will be published in the not too distant future. All through the creation of that blog post and subsequent rough draft of my book, I talked with/prayed to God.
For those who haven’t experienced conversation with God, it’s really a simple task. Get away from as many distractions as you are able. Then just start talking. I don’t recommend talking out loud, especially if others are in a position to eavesdrop. But I have talked out loud to God and it’s worked out OK. In fact, God may have spoken back to me using the voice of a person who commented on my audible musing.
Just talk to God. Stop every once in awhile to allow God to pose questions or to offer guidance. To get to the point, God, the spirit, left me with two inspirations. First, write about the power and promise of hope. Second, remember this as a guiding principle – every life should have a noble purpose. So in response to point one, I now write something almost everyday. To the second point, I have discovered my noble purpose and have dedicated the remainder of my life to that purpose.
My purpose until I draw my last breath is, wherever and however I am able, I will work to end suffering in the world.
I trust in the power and promise of hope for this reason. I retired from being a pastor just about a year ago. Since then I have had conversations with God as to how I might continue to work at my stated purpose in life. Two weeks ago, I received an answer.
Not one, but two churches expressed an interest in having me serve them as an interim, part-time pastor. I accepted one of the two offers. I didn’t ever dream that I would be back as a pastor, part-time or full, as a vehicle for working at my purpose. This was an answer to prayer and a confirmation as long as I trusted in the power and promise of hope, God, the spirit, would find a way to acknowledge my trust in hope.
I trust in hope because hope has never failed me, even when it appeared that everything else at that moment had ended in failure. Hope never left me. Hope has kept me close to the spirit. My spirit isn’t troubled as much anymore. I am confident engaging with the things which I must confront.
I trust in hope. Hope is my foundation and my realization that God, the spirit, is never far from me. This has become a great comfort for me.