by Christine Sine
It’s week three of my discernment process.
At the beginning of the week, I was getting really impatient and frustrated because I was a little sick of the journey and wanted to get to the end. So I drew another doodle. It was a very simple doodle that I realized when I opened my eyes, I had drawn with a pen that was on its last legs. So there were some gaps in the pattern. I quickly filled it in to create the pattern below and as I did so, I heard God say those unwanted words BE PATIENT.
Be patient – some lines are incomplete and still need work to become what they are intended to be.
Be patient – those lines could become the strongest of all.
Be patient – the strong and the weak intermingle to form the completed pattern.
Be patient – don’t hurry, do not get ahead of yourself or ahead of God.
Be patient – allow God to fill in the lines.
It is hard for me to be patient, to wait for God and listen. I want the questions I am focusing on to move me towards action and I have a pretty good idea of what I want that action to look like.
The second word that came to me was INDIFFERENCE, a thought that was stirred by Elizabeth Liebert’s The Way of Discernment. It may sound a little strange as we tend to think of indifference as unconcern. She, however, talks about becoming indifferent to the outcome of a discernment process by laying down our preconceived ideas of what the future should hold. I wanted to give birth to something new and therefore, in my mind, exciting – maybe a new book or a new focus for my writing over the next couple of years.
“Reaching the point of indifference in discernment simply means no longer being bound to any single option, outcome, point of view, ideology, person or strong impulse towards any single option. It means experiencing a freedom to choose what best nourishes both one’s deepest happiness and the world’s thriving.” (Liebert 34)
So I had just settled in to wait and had laid down all my expectations of what the future could hold when I had one of those providential encounters that seemed to bring everything into focus and help me to realize exactly where my heart lies.
Healing Power of Awe and Wonder
I don’t need a new focus, I already have a passion. Over the last few months, our souls have been battered by pandemics, race riots, economic insecurities and environmental crises. It seems to me that the whole population is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Awe and wonder are powerful but little recognized tools to help bring healing in the midst of this trauma. And that is where I feel my focus needs to be – helping people tap into the healing power of awe and wonder.
We all need to discover the wonder of a God who loves us and our world passionately and feels deeply the pain of what is happening. We need to rediscover the joy of living in the world as it is now, not as it was or as we hope it will be and to learn to rejoice in the beauty of the small and the hidden things, the delight of gasping in awe at the created world through which the glory of God shimmers.
We also need to reconnect to the wonder of a vulnerable God who feels deeply the pain of our world and who often most vividly appears in the outcast, the broken, the marginalized and the abandoned. When our hearts ache, it is God’s pain that aches in us. God suffers with us and I am awed by the wonder of this God who is present in inspiring ways in the midst of our lament.
I am not sure that my discernment process is over, but I now feel that I have a sense of the next steps and once again it is John O’Donohue who leads me.
When the heart is ready for a fresh beginning unforeseen things can emerge”
I realize that what has emerged here is not unforeseen to many of my friends. When I asked my Facebook friends what they saw as my contribution to the world, the commonest response was “connecting us to awe and wonder”. So expect to hear more about awe and wonder from me in the future. It really does have incredible healing power.