The question that got the most votes is: Since you spend lots of time taking care of others, what do you personally do to foster the growth of your own spirituality? Are your needs different?
First of all, I wish I agreed that I “spend lots of time taking care of others.” I am very often the recipient of others’ loving care.
The most important thing I do is to see a Spiritual Director. It is, without question, the most important hour I spend each month. Except sometimes at the Eucharist, I never feel closer to God than when I am with Laura. As a wife, mother and high school counselor, she has a very healthy perspective to offer. She specializes in gentle little questions that “blow up” in my face and help me to get in touch with important issues in my relationship with God. We spend time looking at the same questions we use on www.Other6.com (sorry, couldn’t resist the plug!), “where have I found God?” and “where do I need to find God?” Each time we wrap up, I find myself thanking God for the gift of Laura. I would be lost without her.
I pray — not nearly as much as I could or should — and I reflect quite a bit on my daily experiences (what Ignatius calls the Examen.) Mary Oliver’s line, “I don’t know exactly what a prayer is, I do know how to pay attention…” is my keystone.
I go to Confession — not as often as would be most beneficial — because I want to be honest with, and accountable to, God (and myself.) Although it is occasionally challenging, I hide nothing from Laura or my Provincial (Superior) because I firmly believe that the “enemy of our human nature” (Ignatius again) gets to work when I cordon off parts of my life as unredeemable and unlovable.
I spend as much time as I can with people who are crazy in love with God, hoping to get infected. I am blessed beyond measure to live in a warm and welcoming religious community where we are at least as likely to find ourselves chatting about spiritual matters as we are to watch dumb TV quiz shows. At work, my closest colleagues are seriously good and holy people. They console and challenge me in equal measure and constantly point me in the right direction. (Writing this, I am overcome with gratitude for the blessedness of my life.)
Are my needs different? Than whose? I don’t know. I do know that I desire quite a bit of solitude. According to the Myers Briggs people, I am a marginal extrovert (most people think I’m wildly extroverted), but I can easily become, what I call, “peopled out.” When I’m with family, I’m famous for taking long naps, but I often don’t sleep. Instead, I try to give God space to work with me.
I hope I’ve provided some sort of answer.