Friday, May 09, 2014

Solvitur Ambulando “It is solved by walking”

It’s been a difficult week for me in my role as Principal of Uniting College. A whole range of responsibilities and requests have tended to leave me feeling a bit bleak.

What has been immensely helpful is to return to the discernment processes important to my call. I tend to journal as a spiritual practice. Twice. Privately and publicly, through the blog.

One advantage of journalling is in moments like this week. I tend to value written words over spoken words, and so a journal means you can return and read again what you felt in the past, what you discerned in the past.

College has a labyrinth and it was while I was walking the labyrinth that an important piece in my call process occurred. Here is what happened

On the morning of Monday 28 October I was interviewed for the role of Principal of Uniting College. After lunch, I went for a walk. Uniting College is located on the grounds of the Adelaide College of Divinity, which has a labyrinth. So rather than walk the block, I walked the labyrinth, praying the Lords prayer.

The phrase “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done” was particularly meaningful, as I prayed for myself, for the Joint Nominating Committee, for the other applicants.

The labyrinth at Adelaide College of Divinity campus was specifically designed by an Adelaide stained glass artist Cedar Prest. The opening is in the shape of a large communion cup, laid in beautiful mosaics, while the centre is in the shape of a central wafer. As I paused at the centre, I had a strong impression, the realisation that there is plenty of space in the centre to be truly me.

I began to walk out, reflecting on how the pattern of the labyrinth take you from edge to centre, and out to the edge again. It struck me that there were parallels with my own life at that moment, that my interest in mission and fresh expressions might be seen as on the edge, while being a Principal of a theological college is getting pretty close to the centre. It is a role that comes with plenty of expectations of what a Principal should do and be.

And the impression returned: that there is plenty of space in the centre to be truly me.

At that moment, my cell phone rang. It was an ironic moment, interrupted by a cell phone in the midst of the peaceful contemplation of a labyrinth. It was a delightful moment for the call was about the matter I was praying about, a request to attend a further interview in the Principal process.

Standing there holding the phone, it all felt profound, that in praying Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, might I actually be able to experience plenty of space in the Principal role to be truly me.

Twice, this week I’ve returned to that labyrinth and walked it again. I’ve relived the experience, relived my anxiety as I first entered, paused at the centre to recall the freedom, grinned at that moment when the phone rang.

There’s a further thread that didn’t make it into my journal, but which has been helpful to experience again this week. That is the value of walking. All you can do in a labyrinth is walk. Take one step after another. In so doing, you move from centre to edge, and edge to centre.

Back in 2012, what I realised was the importance of “flow,” the need not only for a centre and an edge, but for the movement between the two. They only connect by flow. I wondered if my season as Principal would be about “flow”, attending both to centre and edge in a way that brought flow.

In other words, take one step after another.

That is all I have to do.

Take the next step.

Posted by steve at 06:49 PM

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for blogging so honestly Steve……and the story of walking and then the significant phone call…….hope this week is a better one for you….

    Comment by Jenny B — May 10, 2014 @ 9:59 pm

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