I am a Christian, an Episcopalian, and a choral singer. Holy Week is a distinct challenge for me each year not only because of the long hours of rehearsals and services but also because my own understanding of the events of the week is so at odds with traditional Christian theology as expressed in the liturgy and music of the church. Holy Week often resembles a long wrestling match for me, one that I often lose.
So this year I decided to forgo theological reflection and approach Holy Week from my view point as a life coach. What would I hear in the texts that were read, the lyrics I sang, and the sermons that were preached that might resonate in some small way with the work I do as a life coach. Here are a few things that struck my ear over the last few days.
“Shun not suffering, pain and loss” (from the hymn Go to Dark Gethsemane) – I immediately thought about the section of my coaching training called “embracing the shadow” and especially the practice of “transforming distress into light” developed by Martha Lasley (Facilitating with Heart, p. 86). There are often parts of ourselves that we work hard to shun or avoid. And underneath our pain, loss, anger, and anxiety are real needs. It is much easier to meet those needs if we can open ourselves to the feelings and come to understand what needs we have. Is it a need for connection? for authenticity? for adventure? Can we honor the importance of those feelings and needs?
The sermon on Good Friday provided the fodder for my coaching reflection. The preacher that evening kept using the rhetorical strategy of assuming he knew the questions each of us was asking. “We all ....” I noticed that I completely disengaged when he did that. How often as a coach do I make the mistake of assuming I know what questions my clients are asking instead of remaining open and curious? I’m challenging myself to notice when I do that and avoid it!
Ezekiel 36: 26 – “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
The heart is an amazing part of the body. It has a wealth of knowledge. What a transformation to help someone move from having a heart of stone into a person with a heart of flesh, from someone who really doesn’t receive the messages from his/her heart into someone who integrates the heart with the other parts of the body. This passage caused me to reflect on what parts of my heart have hardened and need to be released in order to become flesh.
Easter morning (2 services)
From the sermon by Janet Broderick: “There always comes a time when common sense fails, a time when only extravagant love can handle the brokenness of our lives.”
Extravagant love – those moments when love flows openly and freely between two people, when God touches our lives in a moment of grace. For me the deep sharing in coaching carries the possibility for those moments of love and caring.
And as a coach with a web site entitled “tuning your life,” I couldn’t resist one final phrase from a hymn text: “let all things seen and unseen their notes together blend.”
Focusing on these (admittedly random) snippets from the liturgies helped me move through these services with much less friction. Now I’m hoping to enjoy the 50 days of Eastertide in a harmonious blend of the seen and unseen, in the deep awareness of the places in our lives that need healing, and in God’s extravagant love received and given freely.
About the author:
Anne Yardley (CFT '13) loves working with people to help them honor and cherish themselves so that they can effectively work and help others. She loved the CFT program so much that she enrolled this year in the Changemakers program! She loves to hike, bike ride, play with her grandchildren, cook, travel, and do crossword puzzles. www.tuning-your-life.com