I woke up this morning, and after doing my spiritual practices, I checked in with the world to discover that the Pope has resigned.
My first thought was, "I didn't know he could do that." And I moved on, investigating other tidbits of news and checking in on Facebook. After all, I'm not Catholic, this doesn't affect me. But one of my friends on Facebook who is Catholic was talking about her reaction to the news and I realized that a huge segment of the world has just lost it's spiritual leader. And then I remembered a meditation I had just published: That our personal spiritual growth does indeed have the power to change the world. And then I remembered how I look up to my spiritual leaders, and how things would change if they went away. And then I remembered how many people are Catholic, and how much importance and weight that carries in their individual lives. And it occurred to me that the Pope resigning does indeed have far reaching effects to all of us. For me, it made me think about what would happen in my community if my spiritual leader left. It also made me think about how I will structure my own community when I graduate and become a spiritual leader.
Part of our training has been to teach us about spiritual leadership. About leading, but not so much that the community falls apart if we go. We are about empowering our flock, not making them dependent on us. We lead, we don't control. If the leader has taken the time to nurture and empower the members of the community, then the community survives and goes on to recruit a new leader. Just like companies, when the leadership changes, so does everything else. New people come on board, while others leave. But the bottom line is change, and most of us do not deal well with change. We fear it, because most of us don't like uncertainty. We don't like not knowing what will happen. And we do odd things when we are in fear. We make poor decisions when we are in fear. That's why it behooves us to continue to do our spiritual practices, because that helps with the fear factor. Which brings me back to personal spiritual practices. It's all related.
So the Pope has resigned. I read his resignation letter. I was impressed by the spiritual language. In a Los Angeles times article, he was quoted, "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering," Benedict said.
While in New Thought we don't teach that suffering is a necessary component of anything, we do teach that prayer is, along with the action of the words and deeds. The Pope, in his letter, said he "repeatedly examined my conscience before God," which means he went within first, before taking action.
This is the essence of spirituality: we go within first, then we take action.
If I lost a spiritual leader, I know what I would do. I'd go within and connect with that profound and peaceful part of me that Knows. And then I would do anything I could to support myself during a time of turbulence, and then I would support my community. This is a time of turbulence for the Catholic Church. This is a time to go within and support yourself first, then support your spiritual community.
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