I have been reflecting, this last while, on what ‘holy listening’ means in the context of my life, right now. Having returned recently from three days of being and singing with Carolyn McDade, we sang “Reverence” and reverence is certainly one aspect of holy listening.
Let ours be a time remembered
for a wakening of a new
reverence for the mystery of being
gratitude for the gift of Life
and humility for our human place
in nature and the whole.
And as Carolyn describes it, it is quite fulsome in its application….toward ourselves, each other and the cosmos.
Until coming to Bowen Island, I was companioned for over a decade by two people who hold the space of Qu’Appelle House of Prayer in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan. For over two decades, I have been companioned by a teacher from the Insight Meditation community who visited my home place four or five times a year. And most recently, a summer period of time with one director, and for the PJP program, I have met twice with my spiritual director.
And what do I notice about and within these holy conversations? Lighting the candle as invitation, creating sacred space within which intention can be placed. Spaciousness; room for silence; acceptance and no judgment; remembering; reflecting back; helpful questions; honouring. Alchemy. Something else is in charge; my compassionate heart comes alive… for myself and others. A sense of grace, of being seen, of allowing and opening.
Many friends have asked me to explain what spiritual companioning is, and so often I simply pose another question, “Do you remember times when you felt truly and deeply listened to, without judgment…..times when something deeper emerged that you knew….but didn’t know that you knew… and felt in your body and in your heart?”
What continues to come alive for me is humility and curiosity. Presuming to know…. whether it’s a person, a solution, a view or opinion….is so profoundly limiting. Can I stay open….can I be aware of my own biases and limitations and triggers….can I bow to the mystery in each of us and in the world and open to it fully, moment to moment?
It’s hard to describe how my understanding of this practice is shifting and shaping as I live into it. Holy listening is every moment. And there’s my response! And that, more than anything, is what is moving in me.
Spirit of Life, come unto me
sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion
blow in the wind, rise in the sea
move in the hand giving life the shape of justice
roots hold me close, wings set me free
Spirit of Life, come to me
come to me.
~ Carolyn McDade
Writing and photograph by Cherie Westmoreland, participant in the Pacific Jubilee SoulGuiding program. Each month, participants receive a journal reflection and they are asked to write and submit their response to their companion and program mentor. What you’ve just read is Cherie’s response to the following journal reflection:
Please reflect on your relationship with your spiritual director/companion. What are you noticing about this practice, this way of being in holy conversation? How would you describe this relationship to someone who has never heard of it before? What comes alive for you as you deepen and develop your own capacity for accompaniment in many areas of your life? How is your understanding of this ancient practice of spiritual direction shifting and shaping as you live the experience of it?
The Jubilee Programs offer training in spiritual direction, spiritual growth and soul development. We explore the contemplative life through spiritual practices including the enneagram, integration of head/heart/body, silent retreats, “holy listening” in journey groups and contemplative prayer and meditation. Read more about spiritual direction by clicking on our 3 national programs: Ontario Jubilee, Pacific Jubilee, Prairie Jubilee.
If you have any questions or comments about this blog, please be in touch with Julie Elliot, Communications for Pacific Jubilee. Email firstname.lastname@example.org