Posted by admin On December - 13 - 2015

Today is a community retreat day. The theme is the Monastic Instinct of Helpfulness. As is my habit, I was sitting in my room reading, meditating and writing in my prayer journal. I write my prayers in the form of a letter to Abba. It is conversational and helps me see the relationship between God and me and also the relationships I have with others—people I pray for, my family, my community and the world.

My letter started out with my definition of helpfulness and then a list of what I think is “helping” and what I think is not. Reading my responses I felt ashamed of my thoughts and asked forgiveness for my “awkward spirituality.” That phrase has not let me go.

When I hear the word awkward, I think of teenagers and how their growth, both physically and emotionally, is often termed awkward. They lack the absolute faith of childhood and the lived experience of adulthood. They neither believe in Santa Claus nor “are” Santa Claus but are somewhere in between.

In my awkward stage of spirituality I lean from “God said it, I believe it, that’s the end of it!” to “Everything is filled with Sacred Presence.” Afraid that letting go of one to grab on to the other will void my contract with God and I will, dare I say it, “Burn in hell.” It seems I swing from absolute to relative and back again just trying to find a comfortable place to land.

And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe spirituality is supposed to be awkward. Maybe you aren’t supposed to get comfortable. Maybe God keeps turning the spit of my personal barbeque pit to keep me cooking but not burnt. Hmmm changed analogies there, but it fits.

The sun just came out so I think I will go take a walk and be spiritual outside for a while. It seems like I just gave myself permission to be awkward and to give myself a bit more time in which to grow. And I think I need a barbeque sandwich. I love retreat days.


  1. Mary Jackson says:

    Dear Sister Kathy,
    I enjoyed reading your “blog” on your community retreat day…a lot of inspirational ideas…

    I love being “helpful”…I believe this is a very good topic to meditate on…I agree there is a lot of growing up “room” to helpfulness…I find myself beginning things, and not have the “stamina” to continue as I should…this definitely leads me to “awkward spirituality”…the willingness to help, but difficult to being committed to continue the efforts…

    Thankfully God is helping me stay close to Him, more and more each day, in spite of my lopsided commitments…Prayerfully, I will be able to end my laziness at commitment to a daily routine, I am much to flexible in my use of God’s time each day…that’s an idea, Kathy, it isn’t my time, but God’s I do or do not use in being helpful to others or to myself, in my daily life. wow, thanks for the “new beginning” to being “helpful” each moment…

    Peace, Love and Joy, Mary Louise Jackson Lay Oblate of Mt. Tabor Monastery

  2. Nancy Farley says:

    I think my work is done. Well said Sr Kathy

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