Monday, June 21

Inspiration in Mt. St. Helen: The Importance of Self Care

This week has been a continued process of holding sacred stories that are full of pain. Whether it is from youth that I work with in secure detention, to homeless youth, to simply friends and family...there has been more than enough pain to go around! And it has made me weepy. Well, holding their stories combined with certain hormonal fluctuations has made me weepy!

I have been wondering where are my limitations? This whole idea of kenosis - emptying yourself out so that you can be filled up with Divine Love - is based, for Christians, on an ancient hymn found in Philippians 2:6-11. This little hymn is believed to be one of the oldest bits of scripture in Christianity and points towards much of what the early church thought. The general idea is that Jesus emptied himself in obedience to God, taking the form of slave to humanity, up to and including death.

Now, I believe we would say to any pastor practicing this kind of service, "You have bad boundaries!" Yeah, I don't think we are really being called to empty ourselves and enslave ourselves so much that it is death-dealing. So there is a tension - how do we serve and maintain healthy boundaries?

This bit of scripture tells us that we are to have compassion and sympathy and to look towards the interest of others. Yes, true. But yet even Jesus went out into the wilderness and mountains when he was tired and needed to do some self-care.

This action of going to the mountainside helps me to see proper self-care and a spiritual practice and as part of the "filling up" process of kenosis. It's a bit like working out my spiritual muscles. Empty out the ego, fill up with love, create a container to hear difficult stories, and  bam! Go take care-pray, walk, meditate, walk up the mountain! Then all the muscles are strengthened and the cycle can begin again.

Aside-->Funny, I am reminded that in bulking up, our muscles tear just a little bit in order to activate the proteins that cause growth. So the tears that fall as we activate our spiritual growth should be a natural extension of our spiritual practice. The Gift of Tears. Yes.

I am going to commit, re-commit, to seeking justice by holding sacred stories. And. I am going to commit to building my spiritual muscles through spiritual practices that include the gift of tears.

What about you? What can you do today to strengthen your spiritual muscles?

Mt. St. Helen & Castle Lake by Terri Stewart
Mt. St. Helen & Castle Lake
by Terri Stewart

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