So I've been doing this course that Sheffield Diocese run, called 'The Art of Spiritual Direction', which follows on from a course I did last year called 'Discipleship and Spiritual Direction: Listening to God, self and others', or something like that anyway. One of the aims of the second course being to equip people with the experience, confidence, and tools to better accompany people in some form of 'spiritual director' type relationship. The course is really good, and over the last 18 months of so it has been very good to have these regular quiet days, where I've been able to spend time praying, reflecting, and learning. But that's not really what I want to write about today.
Each day on the course begins with a prayer exercise, which is then followed by a time sharing in groups of 3 (triads - not the chinese mafia sort however). One of the things that emerged in my sharing was this feeling that parts of my life don't feel particularly joined up at the moment. There are all these thoughts going round my head, questions and doubts about God, about youthwork, about life in general, and then there's this youthwork practice going on in my day to day live, me living out what I believe, and what I believe I am called to do at this time. But these two areas seem quite disjointed. There seems to be no relationship between the two.
I have come to realise that while I was doing CYM, and then when I was doing my Masters degree, I really relied on the structure those two course gave me which provided me with the space and opportunity for my actions and beliefs to interact with one another. For my theology to inform my practice/life, and my life/practice to inform my theology.
In a similar way I fear that when I come to the end of the course I am currently doing, that the joined-up-ness of my spirituality and life may also become a little less joined up.
The day after I had been on my course, last Friday, I went to 'The Youthwork Conference' in Southport. Now truth be told I wasn't much looking forward to the conference bit, more the going away with my friends/other youthworkers from Sheffield. The conference was ok actually. Andy Flannagan was 'leading worship' - I really like Andy, he was with YFC back when I was, and there's something about his music, his sincerity which resonates with me - so that was pretty good. But to be honest none of the talks or seminars really grabbed me. Apart from one on the Sunday morning, which I decided to go to. It was by a guy called Andrew Smith who works for Scripture Union/Youth Encounter. He works for a project bringing together Christian and Muslim young people. It sounds really good.
And as I was sat in this seminar, being challenged about my views, being invited to participate and share my views, I realised how much I had missed this level of stimulation, and this invitation to participate in these kind of discussions. It really energised me. Without doubt it is the one thing from the weekend that has stuck with me.
So all in all, what I'm trying to say is this: that I thrive when I have the space and opportunity to engage my brain in some thinking/academic type stuff, that I've not felt as though I have that opportunity at the moment (maybe something to thing about as I contemplate my future), and that I hope this blog, and interaction with others on blogs, may provide some of that space, opportunity and stimulation that I need.