Writing in my journal this morning, I had a few questions: What/where are my longings? Can I feel them? Name them? Will I find them underneath and in between all the should-ings and the must-ings? Why pay attention to them?
Indeed. Why pay attention? For one thing, I can’t help it — it is in my nature, my DNA, my genes, my “nine-ness” (from the Enneagram, a dynamic personality system which describes nine distinct and fundamentally different patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting).
With regard to the Enneagram, as I understand the nature of a Nine, we are Mediators. We are hard-wired to pay attention — highly sensitive and tuned in to people and our surroundings. And what if that sensitivity is so occupied with outside stimuli that it cannot respond to any inner promptings? See, the outer drowns out the inner. Where does that leave me? Often too preoccupied to listen to the still small voice of the spirit. Not a good thing to be cut off from, I think.
As I read through The Essential Enneagram (a book we encountered in the RUAH program), it invited me to consider the following questions: How have all the people and things around me been pulling at and competing for my attention? How indecisive have I been? In what ways have I gone along with others’ agendas and plans? In what ways have I been sidetracked into focusing on secondary priorities or inessentials?
All this questioning leads me to wonder about finding and maintaining focus in a world chock-a-block full of distractions. What might be useful for finding one’s focus? And maintaining that focus once found? A tool, a discipline or a practice might be just the ticket here.
What can help me set my priorities straight? What already exists in our rich Christian tradition?
Lectio divina is an ancient monastic practice designed to be a “long, loving look at the real.” It works through four stages or steps: read, reflect, respond, and rest. Lectio becomes a container for awareness of inner movements and voices. That’s good, as far as it goes. But I need something more: action. Some outpouring of all that contained goodness.
Once these inner longings are heard clearly, then perhaps I will honor them through action. And action is surely required to build beloved community, which is where I long to belong.