“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
- Anaïs Nin
As I mused on what I would share with you on this last of my weekly missives, the above quote came quickly to mind. It captures the push and pull dynamic that launched me to pursue the path of ministry 25 years ago and now again, as I feel its prod to leave this path.
The promise and peril of the spiritual journey is perhaps least understood and too rarely expounded upon in the wisdom teachings, my own included. Yet, this I know, the impulse to grow and expand is the very essence of our Infinite nature, and it demands growth beyond our comfort zone.
Discomfort marked the wholesale upheaval of my life and that of my family in the early 90s. Then, as now, I became increasingly discontented with my career, feeling out of harmony with my new sense of self that begged authentic expression. Ultimately, I recognized this discontent as a calling into ministry as a career path. This was a total heart trip. There was every logical argument to discourage this calling to pursue ministry as a full time career. And now again, my mind conjures a whole litany of objections to this decision to leave church ministry, the known and practiced path, to the wilderness that beckons but shares so little of what awaits or provides.
In the clarity that has come since I made this recent decision, I am aware that discomfort had been lying low, kept in check by rationality, and gradually working its way to the surface--- steadily, increasingly uncomfortable.
The guidance is crystal clear though the future remains clouded. Isn’t this the way of the Infinite? What is unmistakable is yet unknowable. Isn’t this the way of Divine Love? Love as fire that unsparingly gathers and appropriates our fears and doubts as kindling that we might experience a light and warmth more profound than we would ever find clinging to the safety of the known world.
So while a part of us lauds practicality, security, predictability and control, the greater part of us call us to grow beyond our current sense of self, to experience the deeper and truer recognition and expression of who we have come here to Be. This has been our mission for our time together at Unity of Santa Barbara. The irony is clear… What compelled me to join you, now motivates me to move on. The fulfillment of this mission transcends fixed forms. Spirit is no respecter of limitations and Loves us so much that it relentlessly, unerringly pushes us to be more of Itself.
Although the form of me is leaving, a part of my heart remains with you all. It was love that brought us together; a love for the ideal of sharing these powerful teachings in an inclusive, empowering community. It was love that saw us through when it looked like we lacked the resources to continue. It was love that motivated you and I to dig deeper into our willingness and capacity to offer whatever was necessary to maintain and sustain this community. That’s a powerful and beautiful testimony to the power of love and it gives me great hope that what love has done here, love will do here, going forward.
My hope and prayer is that you will stay close to each other and remember that the true Teacher is the Spirit within you, The Holy Comforter, that remains as always as close as your next moment of remembrance. And I encourage you to embrace the guidance of your transitional ministerial leadership during this time of envisioning your future as a spiritual community and calling forth your next spiritual leader.
Finally, use uncertainty as grist for the mill of your own awakening. Let the need to know drive you deeper into the depth of your own spiritual nature, where what you need to know is found in the formless milieu of a peace that surpasses understanding and Love that holds you in its embrace and a joy that bubbles up for no reason at all.
In this truth, and Love, I am with you always