Spiritual direction at the end of the world (3)

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12.6–7

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

Gospel of Thomas, verse 70

When we dare to face the cruel social and ecological realities we have been accustomed to, courage is born and powers within us are liberated to reimagine and even, perhaps one day, rebuild a world.

Joanna Macy, Entering the Bardo

Living with death

Yesterday, I posed a lot of questions. How do we to live and serve in the face of death? How might this question find new scope in the context of a climate and social collapse? How do we prepare for a world that is much less supportive of the human experiment? How do we understand ourselves in the economy of God within which the human is a small component? What does prayer and relationship with God entail in this viewpoint?

When it comes down to it, one thing I never really question is that You love me. You challenge me. You don’t let me get away with bullshit. I wish I was more surrendered to You, more ‘supple’ in falling into Your hands, more trusting in You, lived with greater “magnanimity and generosity”. I wish I could live more present to You on a moment to moment basis. Despite all this, I feel You close and present and full of love for me.

Here are some of my answers…

Come to realise that you are not separate from God – as a drop of water is not separate from the ocean.


Attend to the present moment: God is here; you are what God is doing right now (God is what you are doing right now); find joy in whatever you are doing (or do something different!); make a difference in this place even if you cannot see how this will keep collapse at bay.

Frank Laubach’s constant prayer: “I have started out trying to live all my waking moments in conscious listening to the inner voice, asking without ceasing, “What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?”

Nourish yourself by reading inspiring writing, listening to enheartening music, looking at ensouling art, walking in embodying landscape.

Make things. Don’t call it creativity. That’s too much pressure. Doodle. Noodle. Dabble. Stir the pot. String a few words together. Make some splots of paint on a piece of scrap paper. Cook food you like to eat.

Cultivate resilience, for your own good and to be helpful to others: pray, exercise, practise presence, cultivate kindness, and be grateful.

Cultivate communities of mutual support.

Practise the kind of personal and spiritual development model of spiritual direction that many of us are used to: planetary healing is distinct but not separate from personal healing. Pray. Make opportunities for Encounter. Discern the Spirits. Pray the Examen.

Practise letting go. The earlier we start, the easier it will be when we have less choice. Every out-breath is a little death, a letting go, and the return of our life to God.

Learn to know that whether we live or die we are God’s (pace Cynthia Bourgeault).

None of this is storing up anything. Each of these things is allowing God to flourish now.

These are a few of my favourite things. Beyond this, I don’t know. We must create and curate a space into which these questions can expand, for ourselves and for those who come to talk.

Final part, Spiritual direction at the end of the world, tomorrow.

Kirkcarrion sunset
Kirkcarrion sunset (photo by Julian Maddock)

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