by Christine Sine
This process of discernment can be a humbling but joy-filled one, I am discovering. This week it has taken an interesting turn as I find myself not reaching to touch the greatness of a cosmic God but reaching inward to find the intimacy of a divine friend.
Two quotes have stood out for me.
From John O’Donohue’s Anam Cara, a book that I didn’t even think of as part of my discernment process, but that I am currently re-reading together with a close friend.
Jesus is the secret Anam Cara of every individual. In friendship with him we enter the tender beauty of the Trinity. In the embrace of this eternal friendship we dare to be free. (O’Donohue, 15)
A couple of days ago, I felt that God said to me, “I don’t just want you to know me as your holy and glorious God but as your soul friend – as the One who is there to share your deepest desires and greatest struggles with.”
Wow talk about humbling and awe inspiring all at the same time. I grew up with the idea that “Jesus is your friend” but I must confess my understanding of this was of more of a casual acquaintance than of a close and intimate friend. To sit in the presence of the ultimate soul friend, share my desires and struggles and listening attentively expecting God to answer was a totally new and refreshing concept for me.
Next from Henri Nouwen’s Discernment:
“When I have no eyes for the small signs of God’s presence – the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the words of encouragement and gestures of love offered by friends – I remain spiritually bind. (Nouwen, 114)
Though I have gone through times of discernment before and have usually taken two or three days away from everything to make that possible, I have never before had an extended at home season like COVID has provided that enables me to slow down my inner being to a place of inner quiet and unhurried noticing like this.
Out of these reflections has come a prayer that I suspect will see me through a great deal of my discernment time. I begin each of my sessions by reading it as a way to focus. I pause between each verse and savour the rich and delightful sense of God drawing closer as I do so.
Precious God, beloved of my soul
I burrow into the wonder of your love.
I feel you in me, round me, on left and on right.
I look for your glory and magnificence,
You show me the small, the hidden and the vulnerable.
I hope to see your greatness,
Instead you draw me into the precious intimacy of divine friendship.
I expect clear direction,
You instead reveal one step at a time.
Not a goal but a journey,
Not a destination but a daily listening.
I rest in your quiet closeness,
Soul friend, heart mate, eternal companion,
Guide me on the true path,
Of love and compassion and generosity.
(Christine Sine August 2020)
So my questions for this week:
What helps me slow down so that I can notice the small, the hidden and the vulnerable aspects of who God is?
What practices sharpen my awareness of divine friendship?