I’m currently rereading a number of my books. As many of you know, my books are one of my treasures, and it occurred to me recently that it might be beneficial to pass through some of them again. It is quite rare for me to read a book more than once, but I must admit, it has been a fascinating process. It’s interesting to see how much I’ve grown through the accumulation of all these words – and as I pass through many of them again, I’m learning from them in new and different ways because I have changed and grown and matured. And that’s the goal, is it not?
So in rereading Margaret Guenther’s classic work – Holy Listening, The Art of Spiritual Direction – I have been challenged again to see the vital role of spiritual friendship, and the importance of these two questions.
What do you want?
Where do you hurt?
One of the gifts of solitude and silence is allowing God to ask you these questions, and then knowing that He listens as you respond. I have found such healing in entering this tender territory with Him. He knows all things. He holds all things.
When we pay attention to our longing and allow questions about our longing to strip away the outer layers of self-definition, we are tapping in the deepest dynamic of the spiritual life. The stirring of spiritual desire indicates that God’s Spirit is already at work within us, drawing us to himself. We love God because he first loved us. We long for God because he first longed for us. We reach for God because he first reached for us. Nothing in the spiritual life originates with us. It all originates with God.
So it is that the spiritual life begins in the most likely place. It begins with the longing that stirs way down deep, underneath the noise, the activity, the drivenness of our life. But it is not always comfortable to acknowledge such longing, and the direction that such an admission takes us is different for all of us. Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms
Climb the mountain friends – go up where the air is thin and you can see for miles.