The following is a transcript of the Raised Catholic Podcast. To listen to the podcast, click here.
Today is episode 88: Contemplative Summer Takeaways
Hi friends, as I explained way back in episode 78, my project this summer was contemplation. For nine weeks, I contemplated God using a variety of methods and focuses, and each time, I tried to model a different kind of contemplative prayer for you. I pray it was helpful for you in your own practice, and this week I’d like to share some of the fruit of my summer contemplation journey with you. As it turns out, this will be a pretty vulnerable episode for me, so thanks for your understanding on that score, friend.
If you listened to the introductory episode of the series, number 78, Contemplative Summer, you’ll know that my personal goal this summer was to discern the future of the Raised Catholic podcast. I had been feeling a little burned out, honestly, discouraged, and sort of aimless, and it felt like a good time for me to check in with God about the state of this ministry.
Like that reading from Ecclesiastes says, there’s a season for everything. Well, as I approached two years of regular weekly episodes, I found myself wondering about the fruit of what is a pretty big commitment of time for me each week, and specifically whether the span of Raised Catholic might be drawing to a close.
When we make any art, undertake a ministry, or any project really, we find many metrics of success. For a business, it might be profit, for a student, it could be grades, and for a podcast, there are numbers and these numbers are readily accessible and countable: listens, downloads, subscribers, comments. It’s fairly easy to measure the success of a podcast by the numbers, and as I said in the very first episode, friend, I just do not know what I’m doing on that score. Though I have owned my own preschool music business for years, I’ve never been a what you’d call a marketer, and getting the word out about my little podcast has not been a strength of mine, I know. Honestly, undertaking this project in the first place was the most reluctant ‘yes’ to a call from the Holy Spirit I’ve ever given, because I was so afraid to invest all of the time and education into this project that I knew it would take, just to have it fail.
To try to discern a leading from the Holy Spirit from this Contemplative Summer, I looked at takeaways from each of the nine episodes by prayerfully scanning their transcripts which, if you’re interested, you can always find those at my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com Anyway, some themes did arise from this time of contemplation that I’m happy to share with you, and as I model this process of gathering in insights or leadings from the Holy Spirit, I hope that you’re able to wrangle some themes from your own summer as well.
For me, the first few weeks of the summer provided a helpful frame, confirming for me the importance of contemplation as a direct path to relationship with God. The next few weeks reminded me of elements of God’s character:
- that he’s a good Dad
- that he has a bird’s eye view, but also a close-up focus on each one of us
- that he’s trustworthy, and
- that he’s in our details
As the summer went on, there were takeaways about me, really, about us as humans:
- that it’s okay for us to find means of prayer that work for us uniquely
- that we work better in combination with people who are different from us
- that prayer is something that we can ‘be’ and not simply ‘do’
- that it’s our job to put ourselves in the path of God on a consistent basis and
- that we really can trust him to do the rest
I received some truths in a deeper way in my spirit this summer, the truth of how we are seen and known, that no matter what we do or where we go, there’s no hiding from God. The reality of God as a prodigal father, who comes out to meet us as we are, returned to me often in this summer. But the two biggest takeaways for me came at the very start and at the very end of the summer.
In an early July yoga class, during savasana, I felt God saying, ‘for you’, while sort of tapping on my chest. I know that might seem weird to some of you. But then while contemplating in church for last week’s episode, I felt deeply in my bones the truth that nothing is wasted.
For you. Nothing is wasted.
Well friend, I don’t know about you, but I was raised with the understanding that my value came from what I did – specifically any work, presence, prayer, service, or action that I did on behalf of other people. If you were born and raised Catholic, the same very well might be true of you, too. Many of us were taught, consciously or unconsciously, to make ourselves smaller on the road toward goodness or holiness, and to value other people more than we valued ourselves.
For literal decades, whenever I have entered a space with other humans, whether I’m teaching preschool music or singing at church or even headed into a party, I will often pray that it will truly be ‘God in me’ that they will hear and see. It’s a way of asking that the Holy Spirit who lives in me might work through me in any ministry I undertake, any relationship, formal or informal, for the benefit or clarity of others. And this reflects Jesus’s call in the Book of Matthew, right, to be salt and light for the world, a good and holy goal, and it’s something we probably all should be working harder at.
But somewhere along the way, I seem to have missed the reality of God’s pouring out for me, that I am not primarily a vessel that he will use, or a machine that he will steer, but actually that the truth of who I am is beloved daughter of God. So that means that any work that God does through me is first for me. I wonder if that makes sense to any of you today.
This may seem like the smallest shift in perspective, but if you have ever experienced burnout in ministry or a workplace or as a parent, I promise you there’s a lot of freedom there in that small shift, because knowing that anything that comes to you or through you is first for you from a God who knows and loves you infinitely – well, that can be like finding a dusty key in a forgotten drawer, turning it in a lock and finding yourself shocked and delighted when a long-closed door swings wide open to reveal a whole lot more light than you once knew was there.
Receiving God’s kindness for me, reinforced by the knowledge that nothing is wasted helps me to remember that God is a divine multiplier, a practitioner of unfair math, and that his generosity will not be outdone. Whatever God puts in us will necessarily overflow in ways that will benefit God’s family because that’s just how he made us, as a Body. How he works can’t always be measured this side of Heaven, it’s true, but we can trust that everything he pours into and through us will work toward the purpose he intends, if we let it. It’s possible that the entire purpose of the Raised Catholic podcast when it’s all said and done will have been one sentence heard by one of you sweet people on a particular day that will shift something that changes your path or the path of someone else for the good, like ripples in a pond. That’s a hard metric for a little human like me, but maybe that person is you, and maybe you’ll tell me about it – honestly, I do love hearing from you, friend but it’s possible that if that does occur, I’ll never know about it.
Ah, but it’s the work that God is doing in me, a metric which I cannot measure but which in quiet moments I can experience, that I find myself most thankful for here at the end of my contemplative summer. Because this podcast – making it for you is changing me. It gives me time and space to connect and listen and hear God who loves me. Nothing that God will do in or through you or me is ever wasted, and one day I know we will see the very colorful truth of that for sure.
So, for now, the Raised Catholic podcast continues, with a shifted perspective and reliance on God for its future. Honestly, at this stage, I can’t say how long that might be. If you like it, I’ll still ask you to share the podcast with a friend and to subscribe and all of those things that are so helpful for growing our community because it’s in and through each other in the Body of Christ that God does his very best work. As for the metrics, I’m going to do my best to leave that to him.
Well, thanks for joining me during this summer of contemplation, friend. If you need me, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com. Thanks so much for rating, reviewing, subscribing and most importantly, sharing this podcast with a friend. That really makes a difference in growing this community, so thanks. If you’d like to support this podcast financially, there’s a way for you to do that in the show notes, along with a very particular quote I’d love to share with you for this week’s episode, so do check all of that out, but before we go, let’s pray together.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
God, help us to remember that we have personal access to you through the gift of contemplation, because of your unwavering and selfless love for us. May each one listening, with courage and with your grace walk through a good door toward a deeper understanding of you in this time, experiencing you anew in a way that you have made in love just for us.
In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.
Well thanks so much for listening today, friend, and I’ll see you next time.
This week, we’ll glean some wisdom from our summer of contemplation. As I share some of the fruit of my summer and the future of the Raised Catholic podcast, I pray that you’ve had a fruitful summer and a variety of experiences that will help in further contemplation of God who loves you just as you are.
If you’d like to connect with me, find me on Instagram or on my blog. If you’d like to help support this podcast financially, there’s now a way to do just that, and thank you – visit me on my page at buymeacoffee.com! Thanks as always for sharing, subscribing, rating, and reviewing, as this helps our community to grow!
Quote from author Barbara Brown Taylor:
“There is a sense in which if I will trust that what comes to me is for me (now that’s the hugest faith statement I can make to you), if I will trust that what comes to me in my life is for me and not against me… what I find is that it breaks my idols, that it breaks my isolation, that it challenges my sense of independence, it does all kinds of things for me that I would not willingly do, that are for me, that are for my health.”