Today marks the beginning of week four in this experiment in holding space. This will be the fourth week in which space is available in which contemplative community may emerge….and while I have made a decided attempt to avoid our Western tendency to judge things as a success or a failure, I am inclined to observe that this experiment, at least for today, has been a success.
So, what in the world does “success” mean in the context of contemplative community. Since experiments of this nature cannot be judged according to our traditional Western standards- (money and numbers), a new method of evaluation is invited. Even this, I hesitate to explore, wondering if evaluation is even possible in context of all things spiritual. So, while I attempt to define success in this context, I do so from a place of awe-filled humility, recognizing there is a deeper current that runs beneath the surface.
In the 15 + years that I have facilitated groups, classes and retreats of a spiritual nature, I have come to a rudimentary system of evaluation based on three criteria: Do the participants seem to be finding spiritual nourishment, are they discovering tools for coming to know more fully their own truth, are they being challenged to grow? If the participants seem to be enjoying these experiences, then I feel the program has begun to be successful. The ultimate success, however, is usually not born out immediately, or even within a few weeks or months. The final test of any program’s success is the empowerment of the participants. If the participants come to a place of fully owning their own truth and are able to go out into the world and share it freely and openly, then I have succeeded in my job as a Spiritual Director/teacher.
At week four in this experiment in holding space, I sit in humble wonder at the work that is being done in those who have chosen to come. I have witnessed moments of joy when a new insight is realized. I have seen tears of release as inner wounds begin to be healed. I have witnessed moments of challenge where participants have had an opportunity to grow through eachothers diversity of background, opinion, belief. And, I think the most important sign of “success” is the universal gratitude on behalf of the participants for finding a place where they own spiritual journey is honored without judgment, where they are empowered on their own journey of knowing truth, and where they can find the spiritual nourishment that they have so longed for. Ultimately, it is the look of gratitude and joy on the participants’ faces that tell me that at least for today, the experiment has been a success. And for this, I am eternally grateful to have the opportunity to be a vessel in which this experiment can be birthed in the world and I am humbled to be witness to the miracle of the Divine working in the lives of those for whom this space is being held. So, I offer a profound prayer of thanks to those who have come and for those who are yet to arrive! Blessings on this journey!