Yesterday, I said that I would look for ways words help me follow the lead truth offers. I listened to myself speak, for at least part of the day, and so learned a piece of what I need for the coming leg of my journey. This is how the insight came to me.
Last year I led a retreat with a friend. This past weekend, I led one by myself. I was indirectly supported by the priest present, but her leadership role was contained in our closing healing service. At the conclusion of the retreat, I felt spent, probably more spent than necessary.
So, when Father Mark, my priest asked me how the retreat went, I said, "I was really spent." Then, in my mind, I heard the beginning of the next sentence I was about to speak. Does this happen to you? I am talking while forming the thoughts for the next sentence, and in that moment, I have the chance to edit those words. This time I consciously let them come out as they had come up within me. So I continued speaking saying something like, "I think it cost me something to spill my guts." I didn't want to sound that out of control, that messy, that unprofessional, but more than my desire to attempt to control my image, I want to be free and to be free I know that honest vulnerability is required. So I let myself say that in some fashion I had spilled my guts as the leader of a retreat.
I believe a retreat leader's role is to provide a holding space for others to be present to whatever the Spirit is stirring within them. Retreats are not meant to provide one person with a captive audience for the unintegrated and irresponsible parts of their personality. Although I think I could take my confession too seriously, I am not. I believe that owning the fact that in some way I had spilled my guts, in saying just a little to much,or too graphically, I can learn the fine balance between too much and too little vulnerability as a retreat leader.
So I am studying the art of being present with others in this role.