What follows are thoughts for my weekly Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) reflection.
Self-reflection. This is an activity that has been a part of my life from a young age. In my Unitarian Universalist congregation, considerable attention and care was given to nurturing my inner processing. My spiritual development grew out of this process, and my social grace, or lack thereof, also was impacted by the regular activity of check-in, circle worship, coming of age mentorship, and intergenerational community. Here at Providence, I am experiencing the edges of my geography of self-reflection. Where are the areas to explore, what is known to me, what is known to me but I have perhaps forgotten to an extent? I have a feeling that I have grown so much, particularly over the last ten years since I more formally entered my faith community as an adult religious professional, that there is value in a continual self-reflection. Counseling therapy is one way this is helped, congregational life can be another, but in all these, I am finding that CPE is providing both the intimate sacred space as well as the skilled and experienced facilitation/participation to an extent that is deeply meaningful.
I feel open to a more profound focus on myself, not in a selfish form of self-congratulations, but in line with my own belief, my own truth that we are imperfect parts of creation in an ever-arcing search for truth and meaning. This abstract belief however does not always manifest in my mind in body, attitudes and behavior, and this summer of CPE, as well as my own discipline of daily prayer, collective worship, and/or silent meditation, are giving me strength, and one of the things I have come to find very important – clarity. Clarity for me requires three parts. First is a sense of the history of the situation or circumstance, providing the grounding. Second is having vision or sight for how an idea nurtured into action will be of benefit to the world, providing the inspiration. Third is the accountability to those, to the best of my ability and knowledge, are affected or impacted by my action. Prayer and reflection for me are the pool in which clarity is drawn.
I have felt confident about the geography of my self-reflection. I have felt in touch with myself, been given the title of sensitive man by others, and have been responsible for facilitating programs of self-reflection for others. I fear that I unconsciously compare myself to others, and find overconfidence and self-congratulations given what I perceive to be the good work on my part. This is dangerous, and contradicts another belief of mine, the inherent worth, dignity and equality of people. Superiority, inferiority, are realities in this world that I seek to address through social justice, education and spiritual growth. There is a need to find the clarity, and the persistence, to apply these efforts to my own personal nature and character.