Times are urgent. We feel we are barely holding on. How do we navigate all this?
The following is based on an article I wrote for Spiritual Directors International in November 2019. It is the ground by which I do this work and offer it to you.
The Urgency of Spiritual Companionship
I’ve come to recognize the vital importance of the role of spiritual companionship in the healing of the world. I’ve grown more acutely aware of the suffering of others, and I sense more and more in people a heaviness and a weariness. I’ve heard one person, a father of three children, describe his situation as “barely hanging on”.
I believe we can all agree that we long for better – for ourselves, our families, and our communities. For all the hand-wringing some do over relativism and moral ambiguity, I believe we all universally yearn to be whole people. Whole within ourselves and with one-another. I understand this longing and yearning as the call of Spirit.
Lived experience of Spirit has been my heart’s desire for my whole life. This can also be understood by such questions as “what is the meaning of life?” and “does any of this really matter?” With integrity, we then strive to orient our lives accordingly, in congruence with the ways we answer and live out these questions. This is the beginning of practicing wholeness.
In my own journey, I often ask of my friends, colleagues, and anyone who will share with me how they discern these questions in their own journey. I am hungry to hear these stories, that I might glean insight into my own. I have had an affinity to how people approach what one might call “spiritual awakening” for years, without having language to name it until learning about the work of spiritual companionship. This work is a practice of listening into being the shared longings in each other’s stories.
As I’ve come to learn of the ancient-yet-new art and practice of spiritual companionship, I’ve found it to be a quiet and contemplative practice, a compassionate practice, a practice of service and of healing. Hence it is fiercely counter-cultural to the individualistic and ideological arguments of our zeitgeist. My task is to love people through listening, that they may hear the Spirit within them spoken into being, and that they may find wholeness within themselves. Listening is much more than hearing a spoken word through the ears. It is an approach that welcomes, affirms, and celebrates however Spirit manifests in the other we are listening to.
Listening is an inherent invitation to wholeness.
Wholeness is not making everyone act and believe like you do. Wholeness is giving oneself over in radical love, that this radical love which is real and true and beautiful can do its work to weave us together as the completed Beloved Community. Thus, all spirituality must be radically inclusive, because it must include everyone. Wholeness in each of us is what will ultimately unify us.
The world desperately needs spiritual companions, and from where I sit, time is of the essence. I am more and more convinced that if we are going to politically heal, economically heal, ecologically heal, racially heal, that it will be through listening and connecting one another to Spirit. And I am compelled to help companion people, in my small way, to share in the healing of the Earth which includes me and all of us. If we do not wake up to this, we will continue to spin our wheels in the heavy machinery of our collective spiritual brokenness, waiting for salvation from the next great world leader, the next wise guru, the future Kingdom of Heaven; and we will despair when it never arrives. It has already arrived! It awaits in each of our hearts, unique and universal, waiting to be listened into being!