By Julie Elliot~
While on vacation in California, my husband and I received a call from our son who said, “I just got home from school and the house is ice cold. The furnace won’t come on and it’s -24C outside!” They did some trouble shooting over the phone but nothing worked, so we contacted a service company and waited to hear what was wrong and if it could be fixed. It took a few days, but eventually the problem was diagnosed – a simple switch had worn out – but more importantly, as it turned out, a casual comment from the repairman caught our attention. He said, “I’ve never seen a filter as dirty as the one I just took out of your furnace…”
You see, I’m the kind of person who takes household maintenance quite seriously. I mark “change furnace filter” on my calendar and every three months I check it off when I’ve completed that task. How could the filter have collected so much dust already? I was mystified because I knew I’d changed it last month.
When we got home, my husband came upstairs, carefully holding a grey, fuzzy thing out in front of him. It was a cheap, cardboard furnace filter I’d never seen before. Very quickly we had the mystery solved. It turns out there isn’t one, but two filters in our high-efficiency furnace. The second one had been hidden behind a screwed-on cover since we built the house in 2009. That’s right – it had been collecting dust for 8 years.
Now, you may be wondering how I’m connecting this experience to the practice of spiritual direction. I found myself reflecting on the fact that there was this major blockage that I had no idea was there. It could have remained hidden for years and years, quietly collecting dust and bogging down the whole system without my knowledge. Similarly, each of us has parts of ourselves that can remain hidden. In spiritual direction we reveal ourselves more fully so that healing can occur. Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
One of the gifts of spiritual direction is that when someone listens to us with love and compassion, we’re supported in making the unconscious conscious. With this quality of loving presence, we have the courage to “take the cover off” and look beneath the surface of our lives to search for deeper meaning and healing. We can observe our lives and get in touch with blockages that get in the way of an abundant life in God. We call this doing the Inner Work. It’s work that opens us more fully to the Divine, often bringing renewed hope, a sense of spaciousness, and a lightness of being. It’s like we’re clearing out the dust and fresh air can flow through us again. We’re enlivened to operate at full capacity as our truest, most authentic selves. From this more spacious and grounded place, we’re able to move more easily into connection, compassion and Love.
Julie Elliot is an alum of the Pacific Jubilee SoulGuiding program ~ a two year practical learning program in spiritual growth, soul development and the art of spiritual direction. She is an artist, writer and teacher. Julie’s also responsible for communications for Pacific Jubilee. If you have questions or comments about this blog, please be in touch at email@example.com
The Jubilee Programs offer training in spiritual direction, spiritual growth and soul development. We explore the contemplative life through spiritual practices including the enneagram, integration of head/heart/body, silent retreats, “holy listening” in journey groups and contemplative prayer and meditation. Read more about spiritual direction by clicking on our 3 national programs: Ontario Jubilee, Pacific Jubilee, Prairie Jubilee