I Am a Spiritual Director - Death, Pain & Transformation
I have been companioning others for almost 18 years.
SDI invited me to share the memory and meaning of the moment I felt I could say -- "I am a spiritual director." This followed the publication of a post on just that topic.
My first response was: I am a spiritual director when I meet people where they are and not where I or they want to be!
A more thought-out response then followed.
While I was in training, my spiritual director would always remind us to meet people where they are and not where we want them to be. I am a person of vision who by nature sees life as full of possibilities. In almost two decades as a spiritual director and UCC minister, I have come to realize how transformation takes place. It’s not through me, my ideology, my vision, or my inspiration. It’s the Spirit who directs, not me.
Currently, I am grieving the death of my mother. In being present to her in her dying days, I came to a reflected awareness. The idea of “meeting people where they are” has transformed me not only as a spiritual director, but in the way I relate to others in all of my living.
Several days before her death, Mom said to me: “Let me go, let me go.” Then she gave me kisses of love. Her message was crystal clear. Mom did not want to be fixed anymore, nor did she want her life saved. For most of my childhood and adult life I had played the roles of helper and caregiver. In that moment of being attentive to her, of acknowledging her desire to be “let go,” Spirit took over. I felt liberated and transformed in ways I had not imagined ever before in my relationship with my mother.
In reflecting on this experience, the memory of a woman whom I companioned for five years comes to mind. For those five years I experienced my own transformation as I sat with this artist in her pain. Being a talented painter, she was distraught that the painful darkness she was experiencing inhibited her creative edge. In many sessions she expressed that she wanted her joy to return so she could paint again. I felt challenged to encourage her and help her joy return. As I look back on the experience, I have come to understand that I had a hard time being with her in her pain because I have a hard time of sitting with my own darkness. Eventually, as she was able to embrace her pain and I was able to be present to her in it, her joy as an artist returned on its own. In those years I began to be able to say I am a spiritual director.
Though I may be aware of this transformation in myself, I know it is an ongoing process. The now of what is, and the now of who I am, invites my presence, moment by moment, for the sake of transformation.
Reverend Dianne Rodriguez
After graduating from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in May of 2005, Pastor Dianne Rodriguez was called as minister to First Parish Church, U.C.C. in Jamesport, NY on Long Island. That same year she was ordained as a U.C.C. minister, of Word and Sacrament. Prior to this call she served at Bethany Congregational in East Rockaway for two years as a licensed minister and Spiritual Director. During these years she volunteered at Christa House, a resident home for those dying of AIDS. She also worked with a colleague to help facilitate spiritual gatherings for those with brain trauma. She completed a three year spiritual formation certification as a Spiritual Director from the Cenacle Retreat Center in Ronkonkoma, NY.
Presently Dianne is the pastor of Hubbard United Church of Christ while engaged in Spiritual formation ministry, and mentoring. This past summer Dianne did Restorative Justice training through Resolutions Northwest. In December she will be starting a Tall in Spirit Restorative Justice Circle for people with diabilities. As a former dancer Dianne has a great appreciation and love for ballet and all the arts that can be used as instruments of God experience in body soul and mind. Her special interests in life are reading, bicycle riding on her yellow and hot pink Del Sol, beading, nature, the arts, theater, music and dance, Feldenkrais body awareness movement classes, gardening, traveling and dining with friends.