Posted by By Julie Elliot
The other day, I found myself unexpectedly offering three spiritual direction sessions. One was at the coffee shop, another in front of the bakery and another on the phone in our kitchen late at night. They were all quite different but they shared some common themes as well. All three conversations were revelatory for the other person with each of them saying a version of, I’ve never told anyone this before. Two of the three had free flowing tears and again the person said something like, I’m embarrassed about crying. I never cry. The whole experience left me in awe about what can happen when we offer unconditional love and an open ear to another person.
One of the stories was difficult to hear. The women, an acquaintance from many years ago, had undergone dramatic changes in her life and she was suffering from estrangement, isolation and having to start over in every area of her life. When I first saw her in the coffee shop I wasn’t sure it was her because she looked so different. As she talked and talked (I can’t believe I’m telling you all this) I could see her soften and relax. She was getting in touch with the truth and her tears, while a surprise to her, weren’t a surprise to me. I knew in the moment I was being asked to listen and that was all I needed to do. We hugged goodbye and as I got into the car I knew something mysterious and wonderful had just happened. My day continued with a similar encounter at the bakery. Later, a casual phone call turned into a deep sharing about grieving and loss the other person was experiencing. I went to bed feeling awed by the love and truth that was so evident that day.
As I reflected on these experiences, it seemed important to create some kind of ritual that would acknowledge the power of these encounters while at the same time, allow me to let them go. It seemed important to let these experiences flow through me and not let them get stuck in me. I could imagine it would be exhausting to “hold” all these people’s stories. I also reflected that I’ve needed a ritual for those deeper conversations that just happen with family members. In those cases, I want to be more aware that I can be fully present for the other but I don’t need to pick up any expectations of outcomes for the other person.
This is a work in progress but for now my ritual is to say the following prayer as an intentional way of “laying it down” – knowing I’ve been privileged to walk with another, through Divine Mystery, for part of their journey. I’ve written out the prayer for each of my directees and my experience has been that when I say it out loud after a session, the simple words carry a powerful feeling of letting go and letting be. I’m also using it after those deeper conversations with family members that aren’t formal spiritual direction sessions but call for letting go nonetheless. I’ve invented a directee named Sabrina to share the prayer with you.
Thank you for Sabrina
and for this holy time
of walking with her
on her sacred journey.
(reflect on the session with an open heart)
Now I ask for the grace
to step off her path
knowing she continues on
strengthened by our connection,
awakened by Love,
renewed to live ever more fully
into her True Shining Self.
(imagine her returning to her life and consciously return to my own life and my own journey)
What are your thoughts and feelings about being fully present and then letting go? Do you have a ritual you’d be willing to share on this blog? Please be in touch with me – I’d love to hear about your experience and I know others would too. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie Elliot is a graduate of the Pacific Jubilee SoulGuiding Program and she offers spiritual direction in Oyama (Lake Country) British Columbia. Julie is co-leading a retreat about contemplative practices with Lois Huey-Heck. Read more about this SoulWork event here. Julie is also responsible for Communications for Pacific Jubilee.