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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

God is always and everywhere active in this world

The first time I ever heard the term "spiritual direction" was in my RCIA class. The married couple that lead my group mentioned that they went to a (female) spiritual director - they never said what that entailed and I didn't ask but I had scary visions of a spiritual drill sergeant :)

What made me think of this was an article I saw today by William Barry SJ - "Spiritual Direction in Daily Life" (you can download it here). The article gives a lot of information about how spiritual direction works but the little bit from the beginning of the article, which I've posted below, touches also on what I mentioned in my last post - beliefs about where God can be encountered. ....


[...] Our definition of spiritual direction assumes that God is encountered in human experience, i.e., that experience can have a religious dimension.4 Ignatius presumed that anyone who made the Exercises would encounter God.5 But the points of the "Contemplation for Attaining Love" presume also that God is encountered in everyday life, not just during the Exercises. Our definition of spiritual direction makes the same assumption: God is always and everywhere active in this world, intent on attaining God’s purpose in creation. Moreover, with Ignatius we posit that God desires a personal relationship with everyone. Thus, at every moment we human beings are in contact with God who is active in the world. Everyone encounters God; there is no escaping this encounter. Every human experience is, among other things, an experience of God. That is, every human experience has a religious dimension.

However, we can be unaware of this dimension of our experience. There is nothing unusual about this state of affairs. We are unaware of many dimensions of our experience all the time. I can be so engrossed in listening to a piano concerto in a concert hall that I do not notice the coughing of my neighbor and am surprised later when my companion complains about the noise the neighbor made. Modern psychology has made us aware of how we can defend ourselves unconsciously against the awareness of anxiety-producing thoughts, feelings and sensations. Since awareness of God’s presence is, quite often, awe-inspiring if not downright terrifying, there is even more reason to expect that we will have difficulty noticing and taking account of experiences of God. Spiritual direction is encouraged, among other reasons, because of t he difficulty of noticing the religious dimension of experience.

Spiritual direction, as defined, is a form of spiritual conversation whose focus is the religious dimension of the experience of the one seeking direction.6 Spiritual directors make a covenant with their directees to help the latter develop their relationship with God. In this covenantal relationship directees agree to talk about what happens when they try to be in conscious relationship with God and directors agree to put all their resources at the disposal of directees to help them to deepen their relationship with God .......

4. Cf. William A. Barry, Spiritual Direction and the Encounter with God: A Theological Inquiry, 2nd Rev is e d Edition (New York/Mahwah: Paulist, 2004) for a detailed discussion of the religious dimension of experience.
5. The 15th Annotation clearly assumes such an encounter, for example.
6. For want of better words I will use "directee" and "director" for the rest of this article.



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12:18 AM  
Blogger Mike L said...

I think Fr Berry is right on. Sometimes it takes us a while to see what happened. Last week we had to run to the city for morning Drs. appointments, and just before we left Susannah found our new dog had caught a small weasel. The weasel was pretty badly hurt, but we were in a hurry so we put him where he would be somewhat protected and left. I was sure he would be gone when we returned or dead.

We got back late in the afternoon and darned if the little rascal wasn't still alive. Okay, heavy gloves on, bring him in and put him in a cat carrier. Half way in he aroused himself enough to try and bite, luckily for me the pin holes in my gloves didn't quite go all the way through.

When placed in the carrier he just lied there, not even trying to move. Susannah got an eyedropper and we gave him water which he accepted readily. Then back to town to the vets.

Unfortunately there was spinal damage and he had to be put to sleep. So where does this lead? I saw such a spark of life in that critter, such a great desire to life, to fight for existence no matter the pain, that it put me to shame. Latter, as I thought about it I wonder if I am loosing my spark, my desire to live, my desire to please God, to contribute to the good of the world. Perhaps God has sent me a message to be more vital.

We found from this incident that weasels give off a kind of bard, a loud birdlike "awk". Susannah says that she has heard that sound around my wood shop, so I hope that others are living around our land, enjoying its beauty.


Mike L

8:52 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


Oh, poor weasel :( You guys were so good to try to save him.

I see that too in the birds and the other creatures in the yard - what seems like a whole-hearted embrace of life that I can't muster. You, though, seem a lot like that to me. You're always so interested in everything, so active and positive. Speaking of which, wish you were still writing your blog - I miss the stories of the animals and the photos.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Mike L said...

Hi Crystal,

Yeah, I have to keep from thinking maybe I could have done more for that rascal. I am also glad I had gloves on or I would be taking rabies shots now :{, Still I am sorry that we lost him. We are thinking about having the Wilderness Conservation Society declare our property a wildlife refuge but I don't feel that we have enough water available yet.

Thank you for the compliment, but I am not sure I recognize myself in it :}. I know my get up and go has been pretty well missing, which may have been caused by the heart problems. Since the last ablation I have had a lot more interest in doing things, and have even been thinking about getting back to the blog.I do have some panoramic pictures I would like to post from the winter snowfall, and can tell uncountable stories of the new dog we have. She is a character. Will have to see.

Oh yes, do you remember the character in the Peanuts cartoon that had the flourishing weed garden? Well Susannah has a flourishing cosmos garden. She ended up throwing enough wildflower seeds into a 10'x10' patch to seed an acre. They came up as a massive amount of green which I really enjoyed. Then there was one lavender flower and Susannah was worried that they wouldn't re-seed. Now they are a mass of purple, white, pink, lavender, and red flowers -- hundreds of them and more buds than blooms. I love it, and it has a wildness about it that is wonderful. I suspect next summer we will have several cosmos patches, and I look forward to it.


Mike L

6:04 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

We are thinking about having the Wilderness Conservation Society declare our property a wildlife refuge

That would be great! The flower patch sounds wonderful. too I look forward to the photos. New dog? I'm sorry to hear you haven't been feeling well. I was thinking you were not blogging because you were busy doing other things, like with the ham radio. My mom had an arrhythmia and she had a procedure where they inserted a wire through her leg to her heart .... is that an ablation? She took digoxon for it, I think.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Mike L said...

Yep, same procedure, but now a bit more advanced. They now use a "wire" that is magnetic and control it with magnetic fields. They plot out the electrical impulses and then burn out the tissue where the pulses should not be going. Guess I had at least 4 short circuits and still have something that causes my heart to be irregular, but they don't think this one is dangerous. Hope their are right!


Mike L

9:20 AM  

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