Tuesday, April 1, 2008

don't think about it

David Brooks devotes his editorial space in this morning's New York Times to a book review of "The Mental ABC's of Pitching." The author, a "sports psychologist" named H.A. Dorfman talks about the essential quality of mental discipline, beyond things like physical technique, in the making of an excellent pitcher. It sounds like the advice Susan Sarandon gives Tim Robbins in Bull Durham where she has him wear lingerie under his uniform to get him out of his ego. Dorfman's advice is even more specific. As Brooks summarizes, "The pitcher's personality isn't at the center. His talent isn't at the center. The task is at the center."

I think of this in my work as a spiritual director. I sit down with a client and we talk about their relationship with the universal wisdom source as revealed through their experience since the last time we met. It isn't about me. It isn't about me being wise or insightful. My task is to keep the space in the room open to the wisdom source, so that as the person remembers, relates, reflects, the message is unveiled between us.

Brooks and Dorfman point out that the only aspect of the game the pitcher has any influence over is the moment the ball leaves their hand. Nothing else matters. I try to remember this in my ministry as well. I have no influence on how someone hears my words, or what they do in response to them. And my words, even in a sermon, need to put the spotlight on God, not the minister.

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