It's always been a problem for me. Many years ago, during my career, a colleague gave me a key ring. On it was the question, "Exactly which part of the word NO do you not understand?"
I am reminded of this as I sit now with an overwhelm of ministry invitations and possibilities, attempting to discern a way forward within an increasingly clear calling to a simple, contemplative lifestyle. It's a tough one. But it's an important question in the context of my own personal soul care. To ignore the question would be hypocritical when I spend much of my ministry helping others to find steps into freedom and health.
I am having to take some tough decisions. Currently I am inundated with invitations to write, to lead retreats and to do spiritual accompanying – far more than I can possibly say ‘yes’ to. So I’m very much in a process of discernment about a way forward. What is emerging quite clearly at the moment is that retreat leading is without a doubt my primary calling, and that God is also bringing an increasing number of others to my door for me to be alongside. Related to all of this, the production of meditation recordings feels significant. So I have a growing sense that I may have to lay down my publication projects for a while until a more fallow season emerges.
I remember a wise Spiritual Director once saying to me that discernment is not usually about choosing between a good path and a bad path but is more often about making a choice between two equally good possibilities. These words, about noticing how God is moving, impacted me during a recent evening prayer -
Life is about connecting with the flow of the Spirit
and surrendering to it,
allowing ourselves to be carried by it.
which reminds me of a favourite little poem,
Fluent, by John O'Donohue -
I would love to live
like a river flows,
carried by the surprise
of its own unfolding.
Whilst it grieves me to lay down the writing projects, it feels as if this is not where I should be giving my attention right now. It feels like a sacrificial laying down, in order to allow myself to be carried along by the surprise of what the Spirit is unfolding in this season. I hope all those who are patiently awaiting the 'next book' will understand.
Finally, thank you to you all for your prayerful support in recent times. I have been very aware of prayer upholding during the last month as I have journeyed back to health after my recent accidents. I'm happy to say that I am now over the worst and getting stronger day by day. Thank you. May God bless you all.