Last weekend I was down in Oregon for the last weekend of a training program I participated in all last year on the Art of Supervision of Spiritual Directors. It was a great program and supervision is one of my professional growing places, something I believe deeply in, not just for spiritual directors, but for all those in forms of pastoral ministry. The word “supervision” doesn’t really do justice to the process — which is a way of deepening self-awareness and growth in response to encounters in work and ministry. It is a place to set down our roles and identities and receive care and nurturing. It is a time to discover the places where we are being invited to bring compassion and understanding.
Each participant had to do a presentation, so mine, of course, was on using the expressive arts in the supervision process which I have been actively using and exploring. The last night of the training we were given some quiet space to create an artistic response to how we see ourselves as supervisors and so I gathered the materials I had brought for others and created a small, impromptu book of hours using collage images and haiku. Haiku had already been moving in me since my boarding of the train to head down to the monastery where the training was held. You may recognize the third haiku below from this week’s Photo Party.
“What’s a rite?” asked the little prince. “Those also are actions too often neglected,” said the fox. “They’re what make one day different from other days, one hour different from other hours.” -from The Little Prince
Open the door wide
Welcome in joy, sorrow, pain
Wise guides from beyond.
Keeper of night dreams
what visions rise from slumber
to awaken the world.?
As sun scatters dark
She asks me to awaken
to the light in me.
Morning bells ring
Sky unfurling gold ribbon,
Saying Look! Listen!
My body prays with
each moment, hearbeat and breath
reflecting deepest self.
We gather each thread
saffron, ruby, lapis, gold,
weaving a story.
Eyes knowing wisdom,
Showing face of the elder,
Let evening come.
Bridges beckon me,
cross toward the long dark night.
Go to the Edges.
And so it is not surprising to me, that this creative response to the question — how do I see myself in the role of supervisor? — also speaks deeply to how I see myself as a person, as a writer, a teacher, a spiritual director.
I love the way the Hours of the day speak to the different movements of our lives — the rising and falling that is woven into each breath and each story. For me, being a “supervisor” of others means being a sacred witness, creating space for the process to unfold in safety. It means helping to weave together the threads to reveal the tapestry emerging. It means being in a constant state of my own awakening to the places I have fallen asleep. It means tending my dreams for the new invitations found there. It means embracing integrity — to be constantly moving toward a greater state of congruence between my inner life and outer expression. It means tending the movements of God through me, honoring my body as holy vessel. It means taking time to delight in the sheer joy and beauty of it all.
What are the hours of your life?
Pour some tea and then stop by this week’s newest Abbey feature — the Photo Party in honor of the Summer Solstice! So many lovely and luminous images already gathering there. Please help spread the word and invite others to join the party! I will do the random drawing on Sunday!
© Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts:
Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts