I just spent an amazing weekend at Angie’s. That’s where I go to get away and renew. We spent the weekend very simply, but it is the little things during a time like this that makes me feel more alive. Little things like great conversations about what God has been doing–the good, the bad, and the ugly–with no judgement whatsoever only love and complete acceptance, having the longest and best belly laugh I’ve had in while, learning beginning bellydancing with Angie and Lisa complete with bellydancing scarves (sooooo fun!!), discovering a red wine I can actually drink, watching great movies together, sharing great conversation over soup and salad. So here’s to finding joy in the small moments and to feeling more and more alive everyday!
I want to link to my friend Paul’s site. He’s writing his thoughts on this conversation over there, and it’s a pretty good read.
“True compassion leads to sharing another’s pain, it does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear.” –Pope John Paul II
I stumbled across the above quote and think it goes along nicely with this topic.
Angie and I had some great conversations about the topic of spiritual friendship and spiritual direction. She gave me two things to read on the topic. One night I read the preface to the book Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction by David G. Benner, and I was so excited that I could hardly sleep even though it was 1am. It was just so comforting to read something by a real person saying that my longings are real and valid. The author is a psychologist, spiritual director, and retreat leader. It starts:
Of all the social changes in the last several decades, nothing has surprised me more than the recent rise of interest in spirituality. For many in Western societies, a hunger for the sacred has emerged out of the bankruptcy of materialism and secularism. And for many in the church, a longing for a deep encounter with God has arisen out of the arid soil of knowing about God but having little personal, experiential knowing of him.
Then later, he says:
Lunch hours in the public mental health clinic where I work used to be filled with the usual topics of conversation–gossip, weekend activities and plans, sports and entertainment. Now the number-one topic is often spirituality. (The number two remains clinic gossip!) People seem to be bursting to tell anyone who will listen about their spiritual quest. They long to share their journey with others. They want people who not only will listen to them but can relate to their story because they are on a spiritual journey of their own.
Spirituality means different things to these people. But a common component of those diverse meanings is the notion of being connected. These people all long to be connected–to God(however he/she/it is understood), to others, to themselves and often to the earth.
The hunger for connection is one of the most fundamental desires of the human heart. We are like immigrants in a new land, with no family or friends and no sense of place. We seem to have lost our mooring. Or perhaps we have lost some part of ourselves. Like pieces of a puzzle seeking their adjoining pieces, we long for connections that will assure us that we belong.
But it is not just connections in general that we seek. In the core of our being we yearn for intimacy. We want people to share our lives. We want soul friends. We were never intended to make the life pilgrimage alone. And attempting to make the spiritual journey on our own is particulaly hazardous.
Paradoxically, however, what we most deeply long for we also fear. How else can we explain our reluctance to be genuinely known by those with whom we are most intimate? Often it seems that what we want is the fruit of companionship without the demands of genuine intimacy. Yet something within us remains dissatisfied with the safe but superficial relationships we experience. Our souls ache for a place of deep encounter with others. Our fears may partially mask this ache, but it won’t go away. We want companions for the journey,companions with whom we can share our soul and our journey.