Lenten Spiritual Direction with My Self

Almost every day, rising from sleep
I so casually hop online, and I am startled awake again, alarmed.
Ukraine. Iran. Myanmar. Tyre. Ethan. Madison. Xana. Kaylee. The Clancy children. Just the recent headlines.
Their names and faces are countless, really.
Abuse. Torture. War. Trauma. Sex-trafficking. Homicide. Betrayals of every stripe.
It dawns on me- I’m in an actual horror movie. There is no waking from this nightmare. I feel panicky and frightened.

But just now, I wonder-
What would this film’s protagonist do?
How would she maneuver amid the ever-circling vultures?
What is her role? Does she bear witness? Blow whistles? Fight? Flee? Freeze? Can she see other options?
Does she change and grow, even in the tragedy?
Who’s the director of this movie anyway? (Good lord, what’s happened to his work?)

My favorite hobbit (brave even when chased by Ringwraiths, neither living nor dead)
was known to ask-
How can life ever be good again when so much bad has happened?
When so much bad is happening?

She might pull the covers over her head and refuse to act at all. No judgment here.
The narrative is relentless though. Nothing drowns out the crying world. Hiding is its own sort of pain.

I watch as she gathers her courage, steadies her breath, and listens quietly for instructions.
Somehow, she does hear a voice despite all the screaming. Calm. Resonant. Clear.

This isn’t a horror movie.
What? How is that even possible?

She hears it again-

This isn’t a horror movie.
I know that’s how it feels. But it’s not.
What is it then?
It’s a story about love, tragedy, and redemption.

She thinks on this for a moment.

I appreciate how direct you are.
Love? Ok. Tragedy? Definitely.
But how can it be about redemption when there are so many innocent children who are hurting? Where’s the redemption for them?

She wonders if she’s going crazy.

Maybe this is gaslighting!

It’s not gaslighting. I know you’re scared. But I’m here. Listen.

Where’s the redemption for the children?

You already know the answer. When you forgive yourself, the Director, and everyone else, their deaths are redeemed. When you transform pain and horror within yourself, their deaths are redeemed. When you extend a forcefield of grace across all the battlefields of life, their deaths are redeemed. When you light candles, say the prayers, and practice a love that extends beyond boundaries, their deaths are redeemed. When you meet violence with truth and wisdom, their deaths are redeemed. When you create beauty, receive pleasure, sing their names, and dance in devotion, their deaths are redeemed.

She’s quiet as the words settle. They make a soft landing in her heart, and she feels their truth.

Oh. So, you’re saying (in some way I don’t completely understand) that when I practice redemption in every way I can, it helps to heal their pain?

Yes. And not just their pain, but the pain of the whole world.

When you see violence and feel the grief and pain, you don’t have to hide, fight, flee, freeze, or collapse. You can choose to be deeply present and offer whatever redemption requires in that moment.

Imagine you are part of a vast interconnected nervous system that covers the world. Instead of contributing dysregulation in its many forms, you can be a co-regulator of wholeness.

Oh wow. Are you sure? How will I know what is required, exactly? This sounds kind of scary.

Here’s how you’ll know:

As you are present in the moment as a forcefield of grace, you’ll feel the right action land with clarity in your heart and mind, just like my words are landing within you. You will be able to take the next step.

Whenever you feel confused, you already know what to do! Sit down. Gather your courage. Steady your breath. Listen for instructions.

Practice this self-offering. The more you practice, the more it will become a skill within you, your own personal creative art. Art that heals. Are you willing to take this on?

The question lands softy in her heart and she feels her love for this world rise within her.

Yes, I am willing.

But what about their misery? I can’t bear to think of them in pain. I want to wrap them all in my arms and make it better.

I know. Your heart is so tender. I see you. And I see your pain.

Can you accept even this? The pain of loving deeply and yet incompletely? Can you trust in a voice that is present for them too?

You are loved. And so are they, even in pain.

I see her cheeks now wet with tears.

I’m not sure. I’m willing to try though. Maybe I can practice this kind of loving.

Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for the guidance.

You are my beloved. I will never leave you, betray you, or give you up to the horror. Never forget, this is a good story despite the pain. Tragic, but good, and you have a role to play in its redemption.

And so the days end and begin again. The internet conveys the pain. But here I stand in the presence of great horror and great love, devoted to redemption in each moment. Whatever that requires.

Will you join me in this forcefield of grace? Will you help me co-regulate the nervous system of our beloved world, breathing peace together? Our world needs your gift given to its fullest, your bread cast upon the waters. You’ll know the role is right for you when you feel it land softly and clearly in your heart, kindling flames of love and courage, present despite all horror.

(Author’s note: I am grateful to Julie Hester and Writing in Company for the writing prompt!)

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

I found your reflection very focused and right on. It gives me hope to be quiet and hold the pain – ponder the pain as Mary did. Thank you so much

Julie Hester
1 year ago

“Will you help me co-regulate the nervous system of our beloved world, breathing peace together?” What a powerful question, Kate. Thank you for letting us into your dialogue with the Director, and for sharing the link to the writing prompts.

Last edited 1 year ago by Julie Hester
Jane Kniffin
Jane Kniffin
1 year ago


1 year ago

Kate, thank you for this sharing. It really helped me this morning.

Karen Kinney
Karen Kinney
1 year ago

Beautiful – thank you for this prayer and for helping me realize how much what I pray for and live flows into the world. Thank you for speaking/writing what I feel.

Lisa Groen
Lisa Groen
1 year ago

Kate, thank you for sharing this. I am moved by the invitation for courage, faith, and agency. 💚

1 year ago

What a beautiful love letter to and from God. Thank you very much.

1 year ago

Thank you Kate for this powerful and much needed message!

Carroll. Moore
Carroll. Moore
1 year ago

Touched by the words of love, hope and redemption. It is beautiful. It’s tries me this could be a two person play

Judith M. Edwards
Judith M. Edwards
1 year ago

Kate, this my second time reading your reflection, which was timely for the season of Lent. Your words, “interconnection of a force field of grace” resonates with me. I also agree that as human beings we must acknowledge the incompleteness of our love. Your insights are beautiful ! I am deeply grateful.


Our mission is to nurture contemplative living and leadership.


In 2025, Shalem will be a dynamic and inclusive community, empowered by the Spirit, where seekers engage in transformation of themselves, their communities, and the world through spiritual growth, deep connection, and courageous action.