The Fifteenth Day of Be-Loved

Elul Day 15

I've often been teased about using the term spiritual director, because I actually have a terrible sense of direction. I have to write down where I park my car every day, and I need explicit directions (preferably written down) if I'm going someplace new. I do much better with descriptive directions like "turn right at the green barn and go up the hill past the bowling alley," rather than "go west for 2 miles." (I am not always sure which way is west, unless I know which way the ocean is.)

I have learned to be more at ease and trusting when I'm lost, or when the path is not clear. I have almost always found my way, or ended up exactly where I needed to be. I've learned to notice markers along the way differently, or ask for guidance. Or ask for a drink of water while I figure out where to go. 

Fortunately, in spiritual direction I am rarely directive or prescriptive unless requested as such; usually it's more of a shared journey in conversation and in silence, sometimes with music, prayer or meditation.  Spiritual direction has also influenced how I practice as a therapist. I am so much more appreciate of intentional silence, and how it makes the conversation even more powerful, more meaningful. There is still a trajectory, but at times it is more of a flow, an unfolding. We continue to discover new truths together; we find the real heart of things, rather than lingering at a superficial level.

Moreover, sometimes things may seem superficial, but small changes are sometimes much more significant than they initially appear, whether it's quitting smoking, or sharing a secret, or reconciling with an old friend. 

As I was writing this, I glanced again at my friend Maureen's handmade grief book, and I turned to Day 15.

Perhaps there are things that are unresolved for you. Perhaps there are some things that you left incomplete. But it is my joy to remind you that you did see some of your dreams come true. One of my dreams come true was having you in my life.

Fifteen days into the grieving process she joyfully lifts up the gift of having known someone, of having shared some aspect of her life with that person even if they will never see each other again. 

I think about those I've loved who have moved on, whether through death or other circumstances, and I know I am forever changed by having known them. I would not be the person I am, or am becoming, without them. They have become part of me, tucked away in my heart always. A piece of their soul is always connected to mine. 

This reminds me of the Hebrew letters of the month E-L-U-L, aleph-lamed-vav-lamed, are often read as an acronym for the phrase Ani l'dodi v'dodi li, which means "I am my beloved and my beloved is mine." This phrase from the Song of Songs is usually cited in reference to lovers or romantic partners, but also includes those we've loved in all kinds of ways, and even includes ourselves, our innate capacity and desire to love and be-loved. 

Do we need a map for the soul?  (this seems akin to the earlier posting about preparing for the unexpected.) It is helpful to know the various access roads and well-traveled routes, but sometimes even Mapquest is wrong and we end up finding our way as we go along. 


I am grateful for the map as well as the mystery.