I’m glad I passed the test, somewhere back around 2004 or so.
That’s about when I asked a very busy priest—one whom I knew only in passing—to be my spiritual director. I didn’t even know what that meant, exactly. But I was coming off an ACTS retreat, and I was bound and determined to make some of my post-retreat resolutions “stick.”
I reasoned that it couldn’t hurt to have an accountability figure in my life – somebody who’d get to know my bad habits and embedded faults, and wouldn’t mind giving me a good swift kick in the kiester if and when the circumstances required.
In Father Jim Krings, I got all that and more. Much more.
Jim passed away five years ago today, and I was moved by the anniversary of his death to look back through the notes I’d taken during our years together. One note – from our very first session – struck a particularly fond chord:
“3 session trial,” it reads “apart from lunch.”
The first phrase outlined his commitment to me: He’d give it a try…but I was more or less on double-secret probation as his directee…and he reserved the right to end the relationship if he determined that I wasn’t serious about my spiritual journey.
The second phrase – “apart from lunch” – reflected the request I’d made of him: He’d actually scheduled that first meeting in the cafeteria of the hospital where he worked at the time. It was a great opportunity for me to discover how well loved the man was; but it left a lot to be desired as a place for discussion and / or introspection.
Soon enough, though, we’d moved our bi-monthly confabs to more fruitful pastoral settings – and I had begun to drink deep from a well of extraordinary spiritual wisdom. Jim often surprised me with his insights, and never failed to challenge me to expand my understanding of God. I loved him as my mentor and guru. I grew to love him as a dear friend, too. So it was a delightful blessing to spend a little time with his memory today, looking back through the notes I scribbled during our sessions over the years.
Among the many truths Jim helped me understand is that we do not truly understand any spiritual thing until we give it away; and indeed, spiritual gifts tend to increase when we offer them to others. So in that spirit – in the still-living spirit of Jim Krings that I hold in my heart – I thought I’d pass along a few of the gems culled from notes I took when we were together. May they bless you as much as they continue to bless me!
Intimacy with God is the calling; the rest is details—the accidents of life.
- A full-blooded “yes” clears the way for the “no’s” that need to be said in your life.
- Take up the cross: Don’t have it thrust upon you.
- Make this your prayer: “Release me…from my attachments to things that You are trying to prune away in me.”
- We need to stay with what we think the truth is; abide with it; but don’t be stubborn about it.
- God intends for us to learn in our bodies…to discover what it means to be God, to embrace the spiritual energy that shapes us, to recognize the divine in us.
Remember: Christ is HUGE.
- Imagine Jesus, looking into the eyes of the Pharisees – imagine him seeing the hate and scorn there; imagine him growing into the ability to love them, his enemies.
- Sit with Jesus, in his sadness…in his disappointments. Join your disappointments to his. Focus on finding order, rather than giving orders.
- Jesus too was on a journey, not so much to discover what it means to be God; but to discover what it means to be human – for God to be in the flesh.
- Let God reveal what She wants from me.
Pray in gratitude that God is waiting, constantly.
- Imagine a Grandmother God: And remind yourself, “I am not worthy to carry the gravy.”
- All the gifts fit together – even the gifts that seem like pain, like brokenness.
- Notice the pain: It’s important. When Jesus and I are yoked together, it feels great – and things go smoothly; when I try to wander away from yoke, it becomes painful.
- Sometimes we are led to a place we’d rather not go; led to a situation in which we’d rather not grow. We may have grown to love things the other way. Notice these feelings; attend to them; and be grateful that we are being led into a place that touches the heart.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.