Spring cleaning.

(Photo taken at Marywood Retreat Center.)

(Photo taken at Marywood Retreat Center.)

“Writing is not so much building a building as it is clearing out a space.”
-C. C.

These words were spoken by a striking young woman named C.C., when I asked if any in our gathering had experience with journaling.

Our meeting was the first in a new series of “women’s spiritual journaling” workshops at a local shelter. I was graced to find myself in the presence of some incredibly beautiful and deeply spiritual women. While the eldest was in her fifties and the youngest in her early twenties, each brought incredible wisdom and discernment to our conversation. Neither allowed herself to fall into the trap of being a victim; instead there was a deep commitment to honest introspection and personal responsibility.

A friend once advised me, “You will never get to where you want to be unless you acknowledge and accept where you are now.” Those who have found recovery through 12-Step programs come to understand this in stark relief. Progress cannot be made without the admission and acceptance of one’s addiction – one’s powerlessness. Later, this same work is applied to other life challenges – as we enter into the deep work of ego-deflation-at-depth. This practice becomes a lifelong discipline of peeling away layer after layer of the onion as we move toward a true self-knowledge that comes through surrender to God.

When C.C. spoke of clearing out space, I became aware of the noise and clutter in my own life – aware of the need to do some spring cleaning. When one is in the midst of crisis over self-destructive, even life-threatening habits, it is easy to see the need for clearing things out. But sometimes we can get cluttered up with so many good things, so many interesting things, that we need to take a step back, to sit down with pen and paper and take stock. To clear out the space of one’s soul enough so that clarity returns. I had a 12-step sponsor who once told me that whenever I do a 4th step inventory of some aspect of my life that I should keep writing until I am the only character in the story (in other words, it is not my business to be in someone else’s business or worry about the” work” I think another needs to do). This is valuable advice.

Today, though, I want to write past the point where I am the only character in the story. I want to keep writing until I find God. I want to keep writing until God finds me.

About Mother Beth Tjoflat

Episcopal priest, urban contemplative, playwright, lover of hounds, American of Chilean-Norwegian-Moravian descent. Interests include transformational ministry with the forgotten and marginalized; church planting and congregational development; 12-step spirituality; Hispanic ministry; radical hospitality, and spending time with dear friends.
This entry was posted in 12-step spirituality, Christianity, faith, peace, Recovery, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Spring cleaning.

  1. Sammy says:

    Great post and so much insight from someone who knows and has been there and done that. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Kathy says:

    Wonderful and relevant to my life. Thanks again.

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