Thursday, October 20, 2005

Lunch with Fr. P.

Once a month or so, I meet with my spiritual director for lunch. Early on in the relationship, we determined that a homemade lunch in exchange for spiritual direction felt like a fair deal for both of us.

I love our lunches. I usually plan what I am going to make a couple of days ahead. It always involves a big salad, as he loves them. And then, the main course can be as fancy as left-over paella with artichoke hearts and linguica (today's menu) or as plain as a tuna salad sandwich. I know that it is part of his spiritual practice to eat whatever is placed before him, so I really don't know if he has dietary restrictions or preferences, except that he has admitted that he doesn't eat meat on Fridays. Since we usually meet on Tuesdays or Thursdays, this is rarely an issue.

In the morning before he comes, I clean the house up a little. Not for him, mind you, because I am pretty sure that he wouldn't care if my house was a wreck, but because I have come to feel that our time is sacred, and want to spend it in a place that feels, well, loved. So the vaccuum comes out and I brush most of the crumbs off the counters. Do the dishes. Wipe the table.

We have been meeting this way for 2 years now. Once a month, a standing date to sit and talk about life and religion and church and mostly about God and Jesus.

Over the last couple of years, I have started to recognize that God is at work in this relationship. So many times we come together and talk about stuff that has gone on in our lives, only to discover that shifts have been happening for both of us... in a kind of parallel experience. In talking about our struggles, joys, fears, we start to see patterns. It is true that we are mostly talking about my stuff. That is the unspoken understanding of the relationship, at least at our lunches... but often Fr. P notices that he has experienced something relevant to my situation and is willing to share it with me.

And so often, I mull over our conversations for days or weeks, mining new insights as I meditate on what we discussed.

Or didn't. Some of the most poignant times are when we fall silent and just sit in the knowledge that God came to earth, took on human form, died and was resurrected... for us. For the world. It is enough to bring us to tears.

This last 6 weeks have been so wrenching in some ways... since I left my church and am a perpetual stranger on Sunday mornings. It reminds me that Jesus, too, said " the son of man has no place to lay his head."

But today, I didn't feel like a stranger. Today I felt peaceful and loved and calm in the presence of God. My Beloved. My Savior.

Thanks, God, for bringing Fr. P into my life.


jo(e) said...

I really love the idea of exchanging lunch for spiritual direction. Both nourish important needs.

Bad Alice said...

How did you find your spiritual director? I've been thinking a lot about this lately.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

We actually knew each other through mutual friends before I got baptised. Since I had Jesus-envy before becoming a christian, I was always peppering him with questions about christianity. Once I was baptised, I was so overwhelmed, I asked if he would meet with me to help me process what was happening. It turned out that was part of his vocation, to shephard new christians. Our relationship just kind of evolved from there.

Not everyone has a retired Anglican priest friend, though! Another friend of mine found her spiritual director by becoming an associate at an Anglican convent. She goes there for retreats about every 6 weeks and one of the nuns is her director. I know that there are several anglican orders. I think you can join Catholic convents as an associate too, even if you aren't catholic.

I would also check out Contemplative Outreach. They are an organization that teaches Centering prayer. Since a serious centering prayer practice often involves spiritual crisis, I bet they have some way of referring people to directors. They offer workshops all the time, too, which would be another good place to find one. (

Finally, I would reccomend asking God to bring one to you. Although on the surface, my director is the exact wrong guy for me (he is pretty conservative theologically) I truly believe God had a hand in bringing us together. He (God) knew that we had much to learn from each other.

So, take the issue up with the Big Guy... I bet he'll hook you up! LOL!

PS: The short answer to your question, Alice, is to just ask someone. That's how I did it!

Natty said...

Aw, I like this post... Reminds me how much I miss my beloved Wise Counsel, a.k.a. Fr. Dan, from St. Tom's where I became a Catholic in 2000. I am slowly making my way toward joining the Dominicans, and so maybe his wish and gentle encouragement, "I want to be your Dominican brother someday" will come true, as it is becoming my wish as well!