Cursillo- the fourth day

Cursillo is like a combination of your birthday and Christmas and Easter and New Year’s and your wedding day, all crammed together in a weekend. And I don’t just mean the excitement of all that. I mean the symbolism and meaning of all that.

A lot of what makes Cursillo work is the surprise factor. However, you could be told everything that is going to happen and it still wouldn’t change the effect. It is the difference between reading a guide book on Paris and going to Paris. Experiencing something is far more powerful. I’m going to tell you something about it, but I can’t tell you everything, partly because it is different for everybody and with every team that is hosting it.

Cursillo is an intensely spiritual weekend. The Catholic Church has them, and the Episcopal Church licensed the concept from them. The Methodist church has a program called “The Walk to Emmaus”. They are all the same concept. The point is that by the end you will have had an encounter with the Holy Spirit.

I feel that this experience is mandatory for all adult Christians. If you take your faith journey seriously, go. It isn’t church camp for adults. It is a life-changing experience.

Going to Cursillo is like being upgraded from a 110 volt outlet to a 220. It is like being upgraded from a garden hose to a fire hose.

It is a modern day Pentecost. That was the time after Jesus had arisen from the dead and then ascended into Heaven. There was a long period in between where the disciples weren’t sure what was going to happen. Then the disciples were suddenly filled with the Holy Spirit and they gained the power to heal, speak in other languages, and minister to others in the same way that Jesus did.

Cursillo replicates that experience. It is an intentional calling-down of the Holy Spirit.

It is a bit overwhelming, especially coming from a non-evangelical church. I suspect Pentecostals and Church of Christ people are wondering what I’m talking about. They have this kind of experience much more often. In some churches, it has to be created, it isn’t a natural event. It really doesn’t matter how it happens, just that it happens.

I’ve written about some of what happened to me before. It is one of the posts in the “Strange but true” section.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a time of intense energy. There isn’t a lot of time for sleep. There is so much to do and learn. We are like little children who have just learned how to read. When we get it, that is all we want to do. When we get filled with the Spirit, we want to keep that connection going. Sometimes sleep isn’t really possible.

Coming back to the real world after such an experience can be very hard. It is called “the fourth day”. Sadly, they don’t give any advice on how to negotiate the world of work and family once you’ve been transformed. I’m going to try here.

Do everything slowly and carefully. Do everything with a sense of thankfulness and gratitude. You are like a new child at this point. You are relearning how to just “be”.

Like walking on water or handling snakes, it is a true test of faith. You are going to want to go back to your old ways of doing things, but your old ways were before you got filled with the Spirit. Breathe through this new experience. The Spirit will teach you what to do.

I found it helpful to make breathing intentionally a part of my practice. On the in breath, pray “Lord help me.” On the out breath, pray “Thank you
Lord” (or change Lord to Jesus).

Eat lightly. Consider going vegetarian. Meat is hard to digest during times of change and stress. Eat only half the amount of food that you normally would eat. Chew it slowly and thoroughly, giving thanks with each bite.

Avoid all spicy foods.

Avoid all stimulants, like sugar and caffeine. You are “high” enough. They will just tip you over the edge.

Try to stick with your normal routine – if you exercise, do that. Don’t make any sudden changes.

Things will look different. Expect that colors will be brighter. Things may have an extra layer of meaning to them. This is normal. The Spirit is revealing information to you that you have missed before.

Hymns and Scripture readings will have more meaning.

Don’t try to write everything down. Enjoy it. Soak it up. You will be overwhelmed with meaning at this time. Things will connect and make sense that you’ve never noticed before. This is normal.

It won’t stay at this level of energy forever. You can survive it. It is kind of like learning to surf – the wave isn’t going to be up for that long. But the best part – if you fall, you won’t drown. You are safe.

If you are woken up in the middle of the night, consider just following your intuition. The Spirit will lead you. You don’t have to lie there, wondering and fretting about lack of sleep. You’ll have as much rest as you need.

When I’m awoken, I get up and I go into my craft room. I’ll sit on the recliner, with a small blanket over my legs. I will turn on a small light so I’m not fully awake, and I’ll sit and see what the Spirit wants to reveal to me. Sometimes it means I need to write it out to discover it. Sometimes it means I need to read Scripture. Sometimes it means I need to draw. Whatever the means – there is something that needs to be uncovered, and I have some work to do. I’ve come to look forward to these middle-of-the-night conversations with God. They don’t happen a lot anymore, and I’ve gone from worrying about them (at first) to missing them. When they happen again it is like getting a visit from an old friend.

Welcome to this new life, this life of Spirit. It is kind of like learning how to read. Once you have been told about reading, and turned on to how to do it, that is all you want to do. Sadly, the “real” world isn’t into Spirit study all the time, so you have to integrate the two. I wish you luck in your path, as you learn your own special way to serve God in this world. Know that the Spirit is always with you for you to call on for help and advice.

Forward progress -beads and good habits

Part of my blog is about the lessons that I’ve learned from beading. One of the most valuable lessons I learned was when I was making a rosary. It took forever to work on, and I took a lot of time in between. I’d work on it, get bored, or my hands would hurt, and I’d put it aside. I finally realized that when I got back to it, nothing had come by and taken away the work that I’d done. No “rosary elves” had shortened my project by five links. What I had done was still there. The same is true of our good deeds.

Any forward progress is forward progress, no matter how slow.

The only difference with good deeds is we don’t have something to look at to see our progress, so we tend to forget. We look at the time we took off, rather than the work we’ve already done. We look at the fact that we stopped, rather than the fact that we started again.

When we are trying to start a good habit, like sitting up straight, we will find ourselves hunched over, and suddenly remember to straighten. Then, five or ten minutes later, we are back, hunched over. This is normal. We straighten again, and we tend to think “Ugh! Why do I keep hunching over?” It is healthier to think “Hey! I remembered to sit up straight!”

Focus on what is working. Focus on what you are doing right. Ignore the mistakes and the pauses. That is part of the package deal of being human. It will become habit to do the right thing, but it takes a while. All good habits are learned, just like bad habits.

Having patience with the process is part of the process.