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Reflections and Thanks

Sue Dunbar

Each of our four speakers in some way alluded to their belief that they were not telling us anything new. Although there may be some truth in this, I certainly found that their presentations have stimulated my thinking. However they have shared themselves with us, as John O’Donohue describes, the “mystery of presence”. In presenting their topics to us each speaker has shared the mystery of his or her presence with us and we go away enriched. Thank you Denis, Linda and Eileen.

From the rich banquet that we have received today I have selected a reminder, a confirmation and a challenge from each speaker.

Denis Edwards: Discernment

Denis shared with us some wisdom from Ignatius of Loyola, John of the Cross, Karl Rahner and Anne Carr and, of course, Denis Edwards!

  • Reminder: The very listening in spiritual direction is an event of the Spirit.
  • Confirmation: The Christian of the future will be a mystic.
  • Challenge: Prayer as authentic praxis – becomes/is a mystical-political connection.

I was reminded of the words of Frederick Buechner:

“Every moment is a key moment and life itself is grace.”

 

Linda Walter: Change and Transformation

Linda introduced us to the grief curve and juxtaposed this with the Emmaus story.

  • Reminder: The value of listening, “and so I listened”. The disciples were transformed by the “radically undefended listening of the stranger”.
  • Confirmation: New life is the sequel of the despair that has been suffered.
  • Challenge: If God is deeply loving then God feels anger, grief and pain.

The closing meditation was of two bronze images representing the death and resurrection of Christ. These seemed to me, to be nestled in both a heart shape and two giant ears.

I was reminded of the final verses of Mary Oliver’s poem, “In Blackwater Woods”:

To live in this world

You must be able to do three things.

To love what is mortal.

To hold it against your bones

Knowing your own life depends on it

And, when the time comes,

To let it go, to let it go.

 

Eileen Glass: Prophetic Dimension

Eileen delighted and challenged us with stories, illustrating the profound importance and enormous riches present in our stories.

  • Reminder: Spiritual direction has an inherently prophetic dimension – God is present in all of life.
  • Confirmation: The primacy of the graced story of each person is central to spiritual direction. We are all only one or two relationships away from the great stories of the people of God.
  • Challenge: Create space to hear the stories which have been silenced in ourselves and in others.

I was reminded of a pithy saying whose source is unknown to me:

“The shortest distance between two people is a story.”

On behalf of the Gathering I extend our thanks to you, Denis, Linda and Eileen.