“We must listen to what is supporting us.
We must listen to what is encouraging us.
We must listen to what is urging us.
We must listen to what is alive in us.”
- Fr. Richard Rohr
What is “it” that is supporting, encouraging, urging, and is alive in us?
They are the usual gamut of parents, teachers, coaches, pastors and counselors who offer these efforts. How is it that we can know and trust the authority of the source? In my immaturity, the sources are necessarily outside sources. Face it, there are times when I need an authority figure to give me orders. There is not time or an experiential basis for discernment on my part. As a child, I need direct instruction and guidance.
How do I develop and trust my ‘free will’?
That’s a tough one! However, like the evolution of any trustworthy and artful skill, this is a process of development. Maturity is a process, one in which I/we engage, evaluate, observe, and evolve. Knowing and trusting my resources is a necessary experiment in life and spirit.
I am learning to approach trust as an experiment. Faith is an experiment. These require intention, action and evaluation. In this process, the ‘resources’ become the voices which guide action and evaluation. I must supply the intention. The resources begin to shift, change, and evolve from purely external in my immaturity, to a more complex and subtle expansion of internal and external voices. There is a clarity of physical, mental and spiritual discernment that, in my experience, seems to shift with ……………….? Clarity seems, at times, to simply shift with the wind, my mood, your mood, all sorts of factors. The stability of my base of support is often soft and insecure.
Trauma can be a force which totally destroys my base of stability, support and confidence. Trauma seems to magnify the destructive voices which guide me to habitual habitats of fear, pain and anxiety. None of these lend to the stability needed to evolve in to trust, faith and hope.
In my lifetime, when I set my intention to ease the fear, pain and anxiety, I am led to someone whose fears are more manageable than mine, whose pain is more bearable than mine, and whose anxiety is less than mine. I find myself with someone whose ‘maturity’ is more mature than mine because they are willing to engage more honestly, listen more quietly, and hear with more clarity. These are the people whose strength and stability offers the support needed to live through their darkness, AND they are willing to be the supportive base I need to tip toe into my darkness.
Where are these ‘saints’ found? I’ve found some in organized churches, some on the sidewalk beside me, some in talking circles around me, some in the practice of my own silence, some seem to fall from a heaven right in front of my face. I am learning that they are everywhere. I am the one who must be mature enough to test my faith and trust. That is so tough to do. Some of us have been sources of pain, fear and anxiety so how is it that we can become sources of strength and stability? Yet, with ample doses of humility, forgiveness and courage we slowly find ourselves sharing a story needed by others.
This, I believe, is the story of chastity. A story that requires discernment of voices that challenge the story I want to hear against the voice of truth, peace and grace. For me, this is the story that has not ended just as the evolution and transformation of maturity – humility, forgiveness, and courage – will not end.
With all the voices that we face, quiet is the only place we can go to hear, digest, sort out, decide, and then let our decisions grow us into the next opportunity to do it all again. Yet, with each phase, there is a bit more confidence, a bit less fear, a bit less pain, a bit more peace.
This is the place beside the restful waters. I need to be there. I need you to be there with me, if only for a moment, long enough to take a deep inhale and a deep exhale – inspire, expire – live, die – and resurrect with a bit more maturity and feeling a bit more alive.