We live divided lives. This is the teaching of varied religious traditions. Afraid that our inner light will be snuffed out or our inner darkness revealed, we hide our true identities from others – and also from ourselves! In the process, we become separated from our true selves: our souls. We develop an ‘on-stage’ persona or an actor’s mask. Our roles and our souls become divided from each other.
I became aware of my divided life when I began to notice how I can refuse to fully invest myself in my work, diminishing its quality. I see it when I remain in settings or relationships that steadily kill off my spirit. It affects me when I hide my beliefs from those who disagree with me to avoid conflict, challenge, and change. Sometimes I conceal my true identity for fear of being criticized, shunned, or attacked. A deep fault line runs down the middle of my life. We all pay a steep price for living divided lives: consumerism, injustice, and violence.
I have deeply appreciated the teachings of Parker J. Palmer. From decades of retreats and from centuries of Quaker spiritual practices, Palmer outlines a journey to inner wholeness. I highly recommend his book “A Hidden Wholeness: A Journey Toward an Undivided Life”. Palmer offers insight into our divided condition. He also gives guidance in creating a community process of transformation that is described as a ‘Circle of Trust’. Circles are intentional spiritual learning groups. There are concrete steps for creating Circles where honest, open sharing allows each person’s ‘inner teacher’ to show up and to speak. Two examples of the touchstones of the practice are: ‘no fixing, no saving, no advising, no setting each other straight’; and ‘this is not a share-or-die event”!
We are creating a Circle in Ashcroft that is open to everyone who would like to learn more. Are you a curious and spiritual seeker, and not necessarily religious? This experience may offer you a gentle and non-judgemental community to explore and experience your inner landscape and to deepen your ability to live with integrity. We will be using the book “A Hidden Wholeness” as the focus of our learning. You can drop in on any Tuesday evening as the Circle does not depend on being present the previous weeks.We are meeting together on Tuesday evenings, March 15 to April 19 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm at St. Alban’s Church (5th and Brink Street, Ashcroft). If you would like more information, please leave a message at 250-453-9909.
Rev. Dan Hines, St. Alban’s Church