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Beside Restful Waters

by Gregory Hermann

“We listen and act, rest and respond, until our work is informed by a deeper wisdom.”

Fr. Richard Rohr

What is your practice of spiritual expression?

The red road of Native American spirituality?

The road walked by Jesus, the Christ?

The road walked by the seekers of Eastern spirituality, like yoga and meditation?

The quiet path in the woods or along the beach?

Where do you and I go to listen and rest until we recognize the voice of our deeper wisdom, the voice of my Wise Man and Wise Woman?

Fr. Rohr quoted Audre Lorde's words:

We can learn to mother ourselves. So I decided to practice listening to the Wise

Woman in me.

Valerie Kaur compared her journey of wisdom with her experiences of giving birth to her children:

The final stage of birthing labor is the most dangerous stage, and most painful.

….. The medical term is transition. Transition feels like dying but it is the stage

that precedes the birth of new life.

My practice of spiritual expression brings me painfully and intimately connected to the birthing process – at least as close as a man can get from the bedside of my wife birthing three of our children. The road of addiction recovery has placed me in circles of birthing pain. We sit in our groups, circles, and 1-1 interactions sharing our birthing pains. Only our pregnancy is one of trauma. Our trauma grows until we have no space to hold it. We become vulnerable enough to transition our abuse, neglect, loneliness, depression.......... We find ourselves in a space safe enough to deliver these experiences to our Higher Power, in the faces and arms of each other. We are the hope that shares our birthings – over and over – until the pains begin to slowly ease while the new life takes root.

In this process, the words of Audre Lorde again give strength to our hope:

I have to get really quiet in order to hear her. …...listening to our deepest

wisdom requires practice.

So we practice, with each other or 1-1 with our Higher Power – we practice and we don't, we practice some more and we don't. Every time I connect with another frustrated one of us who practices, we remind each other to begin again, to continue, to stay the course. We often express our desperation asking, “do I have to do this for the rest of my life?”


We are in it for the long haul, until death, until we transition into another form of spiritual experience.

I hear Audre Lorde's words again:

When I spend time listening to people who are speaking from their deepest wisdom, I can feel understanding, inspiration, and energy nourish the root of my own wisdom. But I must not lose myself at the feet of others. My most vigilant spiritual practice is finding the seconds of solitude to get quiet enough to hear the Wise Woman in me.

I find two very encouraging challenges in her words:

I must not lose myself at the feet of others. I have my own feet to carry me along the path of my journey.

My most vigilant practice results in “seconds of solitude.” That is enough. My challenge is to practice with vigilance and, when I don't, begin to practice again. And, when I don't, begin to practice again........

We listen and act. I hear the call to begin again.

We rest and respond. I come back to you who hold me in your love.

My work becomes informed by a deeper wisdom spoken in seconds of solitude.

I learn to cherish each of these transitions.

Whether I am practicing or not, you who share your journey with me, you have never condemned me, or judged me, or cast me out. You love me, hold me accountable, and love me more.

I am grateful.


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