Paying Attention Bill McDonald’s
May 2015 - Volume 15, No. 5
I’m writing this while attending a week-long conference here in Florida for retired clergy having to do with our overall wellness and purpose.In my case I’ve been generally inactive (and officially ‘retired’) from clergy work for a dozen years.That has allowed me to continue pursuing my long-time ‘first love’ work as a counselor and psychotherapist, my ‘day job’ now for 38 years.
It’s not my intent to report or summarize my experience down here, even though the range of concern and the leadership are superb.
Rather I’ll focus on one thread.Upon ‘retirement’ or any other major shift of life circumstances, perhaps even involving much loss, disruption, confusion and more, there’s also an opportunity (and even perhaps a necessity) to
Become Ourselves Again
One assumed undercurrent of this week is, when we get in touch with what truly matters to us, we discover what makes us most alive.At times of transition, and with a certain amount of boldness and even raw courage, it becomes time to penetrate that question again.
Who am I?What is my nature?What is my life saying to me?Where am I in the continual unfolding of my life?
For a number of years, I’ve been asking myself what would I want a next step in my life to be?Even loving what I do doesn’t mean I need to stay doing it.Are there forces, interests, purposes that want to drive me farther, that may want to lead me elsewhere?
My own field of mental health generally has as its purpose the stability of people, to keep folks within the general field of acceptable behaviors and attitudes.And we have many gifts of this nature to offer to a world of people in chaos and pain.But at times we also take on the role of the moralists of society as well.We help people behave the way our culture wants them to behave.Acceptable behavior is good.Crazy behavior is bad.
The mental health question isn’t necessarily the same question as what makes people most alive.Nor is it always the same as a life well lived, or lived to the fullest.
So this conference is perhaps more radical than would appear on the surface.It dares to ask, “Who are you really, who do you want to become?What new opportunities could emerge for you with this change?What’s preventing you from looking again at what would make you more alive?”
I know these questions are not for everybody.And perhaps I’m overly wrapped up in the energy of these past days.
Yet I don’t want time or circumstance to dilute any you, my readers and friends.I wish for you at every place in your journey a desire for richness and fullness of life - even if the path is through a deep grief.And I’m one stubborn Scot who continues to believe it’s possible.
And again I say,
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