A gift of summer that comes to me is leisurely time for sacred conversation. In the altered pace of life in summer, there seem to be more opportunities for a piece of those endless talks that might be a turning point or a moment of “aha” in the spiritual journey, just because the schedule has thinned out, the days are longer, and some of our encounters are opportunities given by a person just dropping by on their vacation, meandering. It is for me a time of important exchange: surprising, evocative, often blessed by Spirit.
Primarily, however, it begins with my own intention to be present to the one with whom I am speaking, to pay attention to the opportunities that God is giving me:
- on a trip across country, I meet up with a friend whom I have not seen for many years, and along with the exchange of data about the present contours of our lives, we are able to share the ways the Spirit has gentled us from there to here.
- in a phone call designed to arrange logistics of a coming event, a colleague and I take a conversational side trip into sharing discernment of what the Spirit may be saying the churches in this era in our part of the world.
- instead of “doing lunch” one day, a companion and I decide to walk awhile as we wrestle with our doubts and bafflement with how to live the good news in a world surrounded with things falling apart.
In my call to be and practice of being a spiritual director, I notice how often the people with whom I sit just want an opportunity to have these sacred conversations that help them locate where and how to be attentive to the presence of the Holy One in their lives. Someone tells me that she has no other place to talk about holy things in her otherwise demanding life. Another says that he just needs someone to listen and respond as he wrestles with what he sense in the moving of the Spirit in his daily routine. Another is looking for a safe place to ask questions that present themselves, without fear of condemnation or judgement.
I remember how many of the significant messages of Jesus’ ministry happened in personal conversation–Nicodemus, the woman at the well, Mary, Martha, Peter walking with Jesus on the beach after the resurrection. And I am aware of how often it was in the personal encounter with a friend that I heard the voice of the Holy One speak to me directing me to next right thing along my journey–more often than sermons I heard, books I read, information I gathered on the internet. It was the personal conversation with another that most often led me to deeper understanding of the Holy One and of myself.
Once again I pray to be present–to the neighbor who comes for supper, to the grandchild who craves attention, to the old friend who is now in transition, to the new acquaintance who will be a partner in a new project. Each one could be an invitation to sharing something sacred, explicitly or implicitly. I want to welcome the person, the moment, and the opening for Grace and Peace and Wisdom to enter.
God be in my head and in my understanding; God be in my eyes and in my looking; God be in my mouth and in my speaking; God be in my heart and in my thinking…from the Sarum Primer Prayer