Well, I’m still behind on my reading, but I’m making progress and not giving up. I’m praying for endurance and persistence and clarity this weekend and I have two papers to write for school as well as my regular weekly readings, and overdue Ember Day letter to my bishop, and getting on track with my Lent reading. You would think that after two years I’d be in the habit of starting all study with prayer but it is still something that sometimes I have to remind myself of. I truly experience a difference in those times when I approach study prayerfully instead of just jumping in and trying to plow through it. I wonder why sometimes it takes me getting so frustrated I’m ready to throw my books out the window before I stop to pray and allow God into my studying … my mom always said I was stubborn.
But, I am encouraged by my readings in Chittister’s book on The Rule. I’ve been reading the chapter on the qualities of the abbot or prioress. What a radical concept of leadership! A spiritual leader is to lead not drive, to guide, challenge, and enable those in one’s care, to be the center and norm of the group but not above it, “to show in our own lives the beauty that oozes out of those who live the spiritual life to its fullness”. (I give kudos to any author who can work ‘ooze’ into a legitimate sentence!) St. Benedict describes leaders who are committed to the best in the people they lead, who are concerned with the growth and formation of the whole person, not just simply getting things done. He wants as Chisttister describes it “holy listeners who care about the effect of what they do on everybody else. Imagine a world that was run by holy listeners!”
I had a conversation with our Chaplain this week and it’s official, I will be Head Sacristan next year. Basically what that means is I will work under the Chaplain to plan and organize the daily and weekly chapel services. I shared with her that I see so much potential with this position – that it shouldn’t just be about the administrative stuff but also about the spiritual formation of our students. It has to be more if chapel isn’t to be seen as just another task or duty we do each day. Society teaches that spirituality, religion, and church are pieces of our lives and yet somehow in seminary we are to discover that spirituality is about how we live not something we do. I obviously struggle with this and I see others struggle with it, too.
As I was reading this chapter on leadership I could see a link between what I am reading and my position next year and I can already see how this Lenten study and continuing to live with the things I learn after Lent is forming me so that by the guidance and grace of God I can help form others. I pray that I can learn to lead as a holy listener.