I am enjoying a wonderful weekend with my whole family putting on a performance of Peter Pan at the Savannah Children’s Theatre. I have a tiny ensemble part, my son is one of the lost boys with a little solo and my husband joined the tech crew last week, helping Peter and John fly. It has taken a lot of time and energy with 6 pm – midnight tech rehearsals all last week and opening night yesterday evening, but we are having the time of our lives.
I made a mistake tonight in the second performance of the show that got me thinking about “mistakes” in our spiritual journeys as well. Last night we were all on pins and needles, psyched up for our first show. Tonight the energy was a little low – we are so tired and much of the cast faces two more shows this weekend and eight more over the next two weekends.
So as our director gave us our pep talk tonight, she reminded us – yes, we’re tired, but just because we did a great job last night, we should not think we’ve got it all made. There are still little imperfections to improve and incremental steps to making the performances even greater.
So for my first dance number I was in the groove – maybe even better than last night. And that’s the hard one. Whew – I’ve got this theater thing nailed. I told myself it was only going to get easier from here. And then came our second number, so much easier – but I was tripping all over myself. I had let my guard down, taken for granted that I could do it all without putting in the proper mental energy – and I quickly saw how wrong I was.
Fortunately I’m in the back row. No one even commented on it. Only I know what an oopsie it was. But it was a good lesson to ponder, not so much for the show, which will be fine, but for thinking about how we grow deeper and deeper connections with the Divine.
Just like in the show, I sometimes take for granted that I know how to get in touch with God. I’ve been doing this whole contemplative prayer thing for years. I teach others to do it. Sometimes I fall so naturally into contemplation that I wonder why everyone isn’t doing it all the time.
And then there are those times – usually the times when I need it most – when I am tripping all over myself – my brain is completely turned off and so is my soul connection to the spiritual world. I had one of those earlier this week. I had a decision to make and just could not settle my heart into prayer.
Fortunately I had a meeting with a wonderful friend and colleague from my spiritual direction program. “Can I have five minutes of your time?” I begged. So we met over the copy machine and it really only took five minutes for her to set me back on track.
“This is what I heard,” she said, and “Have you thought about this?”
Well, no, of course not, but as soon as we finished I could feel my focus coming back and I’ve been back on track – well, as on track as we can be with something as slippery as our spirits – ever since.
The spiritual journey is a marathon, not a sprint. I didn’t cross check that, but someone wiser than me must have said that before, because it is such a foundational lesson that I still find myself tending to forget. There are plenty of mountain top “opening night” experiences along the way, and there are also lulls in the journey where we find ourselves sleepwalking through the job. The director of Peter Pan has been there before. She warned us about it before the show and then smiled ruefully and knowingly when I told her of my gaffe. It’ll be better next time, I’m sure. In both the theater and in life.
Have you found yourself sleepwalking through your prayer or spiritual life before? What did it take to wake you up? Can a little trip up actually be helpful in those situations? How do you respond to the idea that the spiritual journey is a marathon, not a sprint? What gives you energy for the journey?
My spiritual director and other friends are very helpful in getting me back on track when I slip up. If you’d like a little help getting your spiritual feet back under you, contact me at Openings: Let the Spirit In.