Two weeks ago I again experienced that melting, for the first time in quite a while. Last week I felt locked up in frozenness again.
But back in January, I attended an evening retreat entitled "A Year of Living Intentionally." We worked on formulating our intentions for the year, and at the end of the retreat were given a jar filled with questions on little slips of paper. We wrote out our intentions and taped them to our jars and were encouraged to use the questions in the jar for journaling. I came home and experimentally pulled out one question, which evoked dismay and guilt for how deeply "off" I was feeling at that time, and so I put it back in the jar and stashed the jar out of sight and almost forgot about it.
Meanwhile, other exercises from that retreat have been very helpful to me, even playing a significant role in my recent breakthroughs.
Suddenly today I remembered the jar. I pulled it out, and opened it, and dumped out all of the slips of paper, and read through them all. They are great questions. As I read through them, I thought that they would function very well as Quakerly Queries. About a dozen of them immediately and powerfully shook the rigid framework of my freezing-up-again soul.
And so I thought to myself: "Maybe I should use these as Queries to 'program' my own unprogrammed worship experience in Meeting."
One should, of course, program one's unprogrammed worship very carefully and tentatively! But what I really mean is "preparing heart and mind." I am not really going to force myself through a pre-planned structure no matter what else happens in worship. I need to be open to and sensitive to how the spirit moves among us.
But if I feel frozen, I will hold these Queries like a blow-torch (or at least a candle) against strategic points in the icy walls freezing up around my soul.
Here are some of the ones that speak to me this week. I may share more in the weeks to come. I will not share my own responses, but just the Queries themselves, in case these should speak to others as well:
- What inspires me these days? How can I follow this and be shaped by this energy?
- How can I support myself in becoming the person I want to be?
- Who or what gives me energy?
- What or who do I need to say yes to this week?
- What or who do I need to say no to this week?
- In what ways am I holding back in my life?
- How do I want to feel today?
Admittedly, this set is "I" focused. But sometimes a person's major spiritual challenge is to reconnect in a living and vibrant way with God's love. It is hard to bring God's love forth into the world through your life (to "let your life speak") when struggling with the frozen-soul syndrome that depression sometimes is. It is these kinds of Queries that, right now in my life, powerfully speak to me and help me get back in touch with a version of myself whom I like: a version of myself who does feel in touch with God's love. And so I offer these in case others find this approach helpful too.