Last word in 2021 about a new beginning in 2022

I’m wanting to blog something about my decision to do the postulancy for Order of the Common Life beginning January 2022. I did something similar with the Order of Sustainable Faith in 2017 – Jan-Jun. 4 years ago to the month, interestingly. Doing the postulancy for OSF (going through their Invitations & Commitments: A RULE OF LIFE written by jared patrick boyd) was an intentional response to my fascination around religious orders, probably because of my relationship with folk in religious orders. My first job as a married man was with the Sisters of Good Shepherd. Sr. Monica, their prioress and my supervisor at the time, introduced me to silent retreats, contemplation and spiritual direction. She introduced me to my first spiritual director, a Jesuit, Fr. Crouch, SJ. That led to my training in spiritual direction at St. Benedict’s Retreat and Conference Center. I’ve been in a spiritual director’s peer supervision group for over 20 years which has included Sr. Carmela, SSMI and more recently Sr. Laurette, SGM. St. Francis and his protege, Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM continually model how to follow Jesus. My fav. contemplative writer, Fr. Louis (Thomas) Merton, OCSO was a Trappist. My soul has benefitted much from those sisters and brothers. However in 2017 I realised that I wasn’t ready to put the time and effort into the commitments and let it go. 

My first entry in my Lectio Divina journal in 2021 was a meditation on Psalm 18: 2  My God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation and my stronghold. 24  I was also wholehearted before him and kept myself from iniquity.” Those last words seem to speak to me and I journalled – “beginning to toy with the importance of asceticism. I’m shielded no matter what but what if I shielded myself more?”  That interest in asceticism “a severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons. Oxford ” has grown over the months. I wasn’t really interested in a severe self-discipline rather was following a deepening desire to do whatever it took to grow closer to the Holy One, living more out of Love, no matter how religious it looked. 

Most of my life I’ve avoided being thought of as “more spiritual than thou” especially as a PK, but this year was growing in my willingness to look that way if that’s what it took to be more aware of Love, Light and Grace. Union has become a theological mystery I’ve been invited by Spirit to explore…be Love, be Light, be Grace. I’m not an evil person AND I often miss the mark, especially in how I treat others and myself. I’m very aware of the forgiveness that flows like a healing river and live quite free of my “sins” AND I’m aware that spending time in prayer, meditation, contemplation, reading, writing along with my retirement activities of loving, listening, and laboring – stained glass creating – are ways I connect with Love and learn to be Love. I’m also aware that there are many things I spend time on that distract me from union, that Love. 

So let me elaborate how I feel I was led to a way of life that will help me deal with / mature past some of those distractions. It’s good for me to document the process…which if you’re still reading…process.

On Monday, July 12, 2021, 12:10 AM, Beloved Servant <> wrote:

Hi, Stephen,

This fall The Order of the Common Life (previously The Order of Sustainable Faith) will be releasing online materials for those interested in learning more about the Order. Would you know of anyone by chance that would be interested in stepping a little deeper into monastic spirituality through participation in a 12-week experience, either through an online self-guided experience or as part of a group? 

Warmly, Sister Dixie

This email led me to check out OCL and what Dixie was writing about. It turned out they were sharing was Contemplative Foundations. I’m all for learning more about contemplation and was interested in what changes had happened to OSL, so I signed up. From the first video of Jared share – an Overview of A Contemplative Foundation, I was aware of how his approach and words articulated my soul’s desires. As I watched the videos, journaled my responses to the questions and participated in Dixie’s discussion group about the weekly content; my sense that OCL could be a way to deepen my connection with the Holy One grew. My possible affiliation with OCL became part of my prayer and thought life. There were some significant moments in Lectio Divina that seemed to speak directly to that question, a solid yes. 

As I participated in CF I discovered that I was finding space in my life for the videos, journalling and meetings. These Spirit directed activities were gently pushing other, less spiritual things, out of my life…gently, lovingly but firmly. It was like I was being given a taste of what it might be like for my life to be fuller of the things of Love and Wisdom rather than Prime and Netflicks. I was filled with hope that the way of life that a 21st century religious order would invite me to…the commitments… could be manageable. It would cost something…time, effort, money AND it felt like an invitation to grow in love and grace rather than a demand – not too acetic but intentional. 

However I knew that Linda needed to be on board 110% or I would have to do something that would better fit our lives. When I asked her if I should try postulancy again, she said that she’d like to as well…not now, but after she retired. Seemed like another solid yes, so I asked for an interview with Bro. Brian OCL, and was accepted, paid some money and I’m starting a 6 month postulancy in the Order of the Common Life on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. We’ll meet every second Wednesday for 6 months, among other commitments, and then discern where I go from there. As I write this I think I’m feeling excited…my soul is full of peaceful anticipation. The pilgrimage continues. Thanks be to the Holy One.

P.S. I wanted to include my phrase for 2022 – “Come further up, come further in” from the unicorn’s speech in The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis, p.195. My song for 2022 continues to be Gravity of Love, The Brilliance. Blessings of health, joy and much love for us all in 2022.

About gsmurphy1

Husband, father, son, brother, listener, seeker, encourager, pilgrim, stained glass artist
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