Hesychia: Day 1, Week 2

It’s Interfaith Spiritual Direction Week, which means this week we’re being exposed to spiritual direction within faith traditions other than Christianity, including AA and “spiritual but not religious.”

I think my biggest takeaway from today is this: Let the directee name the moment. Don’t impose language on them that isn’t theirs.

How often we go about our lives unaware of how we are shaped by our own assumptions and experiences.  How often we blunder into unintended offenses simply because of our assumptions about others.  We assume people are like we are, think like we do, talk the way way do, feel how we feel, and want what we want.

How easily we can shut a person down or end a conversation by using language that they receive as an implied judgment or a lack of understanding of who they are, where they are coming from, and what they have to say.

Rather than asking a person what their experience of God is like, ask: “What does your spiritual world look like?”

It is my desire, through this experience, to learn how to portray and conduct myself as a person who is open to conversation, who does not judge, who will not be shocked, and who is capable of hearing and containing another person’s sacred story with interest, compassion, and empathy.

It’s so easy to turn someone off with a careless gesture or misplaced word.  As Parker Palmer puts it, the soul is like a wild animal, easily scared away by sudden or rough movement and loud language.  I want to create space where the soul can feel safe to come out into the clearing and share that sacred story.

It starts with my own self-awareness.  It starts with my own openness.  I am responsible for the space I create, and I am responsible for containing that space.

Tomorrow afternoon I will sit in the director’s chair for the first time and practice in front of the group.  I spent all afternoon today experiencing anxiety over the anxiety I expect to feel tomorrow!  I hope and pray I can find a way to release that anxiety, release the desire to “perform” and to “get it right,” and use the opportunity to really practice, try something out, take a risk, and be bold.

Oh, Lord, help me now!  Help me THEN!

What I hope more than anything else for my director session tomorrow is to create that safe, open space for my practice-directee to share his sacred story with me.  Above anything else, I want to be able to hold his story, honor his experience, and simply be present with him in whatever he chooses to bring before the group.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can!

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And if you’re not following me on Twitter, you should check out my feed and see some of the pictures I’m posting throughout my experience in Arizona.  You won’t want to miss the one about the scorpion attack! Gross.

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