Spiritual direction update — when the rubber hit the road

Email sent to my spiritual director this afternoon (slightly edited), posted here as a summary and a reminder to myself.

Sr. ______ —

Just a note to confirm our meeting at 2 2:30 p.m. Monday, April 1. (I don’t have my notes from our last session, but I’m 99.9 percent certain that’s when we scheduled it. If not, just let me know and I’ll revise my schedule accordingly.) Unless I hear otherwise from you, I’ll be at the motherhouse at 2 2:30.

Probably I should start by briefly outlining: (1) what I planned to do this month; and (2) what I actually did. They’re quite different! But I feel like the time I’ve given to spiritual matters has been well spent, and I’m beginning to establish some kind of prayer life away from worship services.

This has more to do with Debi’s hospitalization, I’ll admit, than with any spiritual discipline on my part. But I did manage to make a start with lectio divina as my Lenten discipline this year, and I’ve been practicing the mountain dulcimer at home for the first time in several months. I want to keep up with both, and I suspect practice is practice, discipline is discipline, and they’re related somehow. Or could be.

Haven’t done as much journaling as I’d planned, and I made some false starts. So I don’t have a lot of links, but I found a simplified version of lectio divina in an article by James Martin SJ that seems to be working for me. I think I prefer it to some of the others I’ve read because he works a call to action into his final step. Anyway, I copied it to the blog for convenient reference (scroll down to second excerpt to find Fr. Martin’s):


And there are at least a couple of journal posts that reflect where I’m at these days. I’ll link them below.

Taking up the points I mentioned above in order:

1. I had planned to start journaling on the epistles of St. Paul, at your suggestion, and I read up on the chapter in Acts that tells of his preaching in Athens about the unknown god. I copied it to my blog “Ordinary Time,” along with some background information about Athens in St. Paul’s day:

Acts 17:24 [NIV] “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

But I haven’t followed up on it.


I ‘m copying it to you here mostly because this passage in Acts comes closest to expressing the God of my understanding. Also because I do want to follow up on it — and I’m more likely to do so if I make a note of it here.

2. This, to quote one of the journal entries, is where the rubber hit the road this month. Debi’s hospitalization, among other things and my reaction(s) to all of above, raised a lot of issues in new ways. So instead of the orderly plan for spiritual reading and reflection I’d imagined, I’ve been praying my way through a crisis, or, as I put it in one of the journals, when the rubber hit the road. I’ve posted other stuff to the blog, but I think these two are most useful (with the hypertext link followed by my headline):

https://hemlandssanger.wordpress.com/2019/03/08/bollywood/ — ‘When there is darkness in the path / Give us light’: How a Bollywood movie jump-started my Lenten prayer discipline

https://hemlandssanger.wordpress.com/2019/03/17/st-patricks-breastplate-2/ — St. Patrick’s Breastplate: My confirmation hymn, our bounden duty and seeking God’s presence when the rubber hits the road

My headlines are pretty descriptive, I think, and I’ve given you enough to read in this email! So I think I’ll leave it at that. If there’s a common theme here, it’s this: I’m seeing prayer as a two-way communication process, and I’m definitely seeing it as oriented to action.

See you Monday afternoon, unless I hear back from you that I’ve got the wrong date for our session.

— Pete

* * *

Peter Ellertsen, 2125 S Lincoln Ave, Springfield IL 62704. For random notes on dulcimers, history, hymnody, cultural studies and all kinds of music, visit my research blog “Hogfiddle” at hogfiddle.wordpress.com.

One thought on “Spiritual direction update — when the rubber hit the road”

  1. We never can anticipate where our spiritual journey will take us, as you realized for the umpteenth time with Debi’s hospitalization. The actual journey makes great material for spiritual direction as you have seen this month.

    Liked by 1 person

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