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The Art of Surrender

These last few weeks certain themes have been on my mind in connection with creativity: radical self-care, dream-tending, contemplative living, and humility.  My body continues to feel tired and my intuition and dreams have been screaming at me to not make the trip down to Berkeley to teach later this month.  And so early this week, with the advice of my doctor and the support of a wonderful husband and great friends, I made the difficult decision to not go. 

Thankfully, my good friend and colleague Amy Wyatt has agreed to step in and take my place which helps relieve my sense of responsibility for students who are coming to take the classes.  Amy and I have taught together before, including a class called “Creativity and Christian Spirituality” in Berkeley, we co-founded The Creating Space here in Seattle, and wrote an article together on “Creativity as Christian Spiritual Practice” for the Journal of Supervision and Training in Ministry.  That is all to say, that Amy will be a fine replacement.

Funny how the process of letting things go raises all kinds of issues.  For me there has been a chorus of voices that were competing for my energy and attention.  This has been an act of humility, of letting go, of feeling vulnerable, of some fear.  Thankfully as the week has continued, and my sense of freedom has expanded with the decision, those voices have settled back to stillness.  Mostly though, this has been an act of profound trust.

I have this sense of surrendering, of falling into the Great Mystery, trusting only how the holy speaks through my intuition, dreams, and my body’s wisdom to guide me.  The path is not clear except for this: my need to keep these next several weeks simple and focus on my physical healing, my writing, and seeing people for spiritual direction.  I am seeking a Rule of Life that nourishes me back to wholeness, a life-giving rhythm to renew me.

I want my life to be a sign and a witness to this sacred art of living, which sometimes necessitates hard choices and letting go even the things that bring great joy.  I love teaching, I adore the classes I have taught in Berkeley and love being with folks working in ministry, helping to nurture them and give them creative tools for more vibrant and engaging ministry and self-care.

Right now, I am trusting that this act of surrender is in its own indirect way a path of teaching.  Of witnessing to others the power of deeply listening for the ways God is inviting us into greater life with each moment and knowing that somehow, and in some way, in that process I will be transformed.

-Christine Valters Paintner (sacredcenter at aol dot com)

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for your comment Bette. Like most things in the spiritual life, it takes practice. Taking on a regular spiritual practice that nurtures balance and rhythm such as creating a rule of life, regular journaling for reflection, or praying the Divine Office as a way of returning to prayer again and again, these are just a few examples. I think it is a lifelong process and yes, some days it is very hard. Blessings, Christine

  2. letting go for the greater good. its hard to retreat.
    thank you for your reminder of disciplines, balance, and rhythm in your June 7 posting.
    when will i ever get there?! some days it seems so hard.