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6. The manifest presence of Jesus

 


Jesus' manifest presence in the companioning encounter

There is another way in which Andrea becomes attuned to the way of Jesus. In the very midst of Carol’s revisiting the site of her most painful wounding, the acknowledgement of not being wanted by her mother, Jesus became manifest (page 25 – 26 of Reflected Love). We gain a glimpse into his transforming her deep wound. I was keen to ask Andrea about this. But first, we will look at an extract from that part of the encounter.

 

Encountering the Wounded Child

What follows is a brief review of one of the major threads in Carol’s unfolding story. The figure of herself that Carol had been observing on her inner screen took her to a place in her childhood, where she was used as an intermediary between her mother and an alcoholic and violent father. By observing the child persona of her inner figure very carefully, the adult Carol re-entered and re-experienced critical childhood events—almost like watching a video, yet very real. This latent capacity (identified as our “active imagination”) enables us to access deeper realms of our lived experience. Most need a companion to remain focussed, trustful of what is emerging and safe for such an inner journey.

In this way, Carol re-engaged with the long-forgotten memories and traumas she experienced as a child, she had hidden them away. Without a sympathetic adult witness, Carol had been left alone with traumas far too overwhelming for a young child to hold, and so she had resolved to get away from an intolerable family situation at the earliest opportunity. As she engaged with these hidden memories, a question emerged for Carol, a painful puzzle she longed to solve: Why had her mother not protected her? Why had she been used in this way?

Wrestling with these questions, Carol heard the pain-filled cry of an unwanted child who had never had the opportunity to bond with her own mother. For many minutes, Carol sobbed heart-breaking lamentations. In the midst of this devastation, Jesus manifested himself to Carol. Up until this time, Andrea had reflected something of Jesus’ way to Carol, so when His manifest presence appeared, it was almost as an extension of Andrea. But slowly, Jesus revealed to Carol, in a unique way, that her truest and most trustworthy parent was indeed her Heavenly Father. During this moment, Andrea moved back a little, while encouraging the adult Carol to be attentive to what was unfolding in front of her. 

 


Conversation continues


Author: It seems to me, Andrea that, right in the midst of what must have been a most excruciatingly painful experience, Jesus manifested himself to Carol. It was like the limits and precariousness of her human experience was punctuated by an intense, radical and mysterious experience; something of the transcendent breaking through into her life!

Andrea: Yes there was certainly a breaking through into this most painful and distressing experience. In those incredibly intense moments, Carol’s awareness intensifies and she was invited to see through into a far deeper reality; indeed into the transcendent and mysterious dimensions which are at the very root and source of her life. [i]

Author: This seems to have been made very personal to her through the Jesus presence.

Andrea: Yes. It was as if the profound humanity and relational solidarity of Jesus, and his redeeming, liberating, and restorative death and resurrection, which is present already in Carol’s heart, is made present and tangible to her. This encounter invites her to discover a new and transforming meaning to her most painful and distressing experiences and to her life as a whole.[ii] Only he is able to touch her in such a profound way and at a level that is much deeper than that of her will or reason. His is a gift to her that is free and unexpected.

Author: And is part of this gift inviting her into the fullness of her conscious self-awareness?

Andrea: Yes! You can see how substantially this conscious awareness grows as Jesus becomes more present and tangible to her. It is Jesus in his fullness, including his death and resurrection, within her through the Spirit. There is also the invitation to continue to grow in his likeness.

Author: This is all gift!  And yet, Carol had to be open to receive the gift.

Andrea: Yes, she did.

*   *   *   *


Andrea’s moment of intensity[iii]

Andrea spoke of Jesus’ self-giving. There is an incredible vulnerability in this, and it is most evident from chapter three of Reflected Love, that Andrea was also prepared to be vulnerable. She did not protect her heart from Carol’s pain. There were still some more questions I wanted to ask her about this.


 

Author: I wonder, Andrea, if we could go back to what you described before as “incredibly intense moments?” Could you say something about what, for you personally, was an incredibly intense moment?

Andrea: (Deep in thought for a number of moments). What comes to my attention as I seek to respond to your question is the moment that I asked Carol: “What do you notice is now happening to you as you discover that you were not wanted by your mother?” There was some incredible intensity for me leading up to posing a question that is sure to be incredibly painful; painful for both of us.

Author: As this question, and the anticipation that it will be painful, comes to you now, what do you notice begins to happen for you? 

Andrea: (Silent for a few moments). What comes—and this is a bit strange—is the word, “Gethsemane.”

Author: “Gethsemane!”

Andrea: Yes! I have been learning to stay with what comes to me first, even though it might be strange. Yes, it is “Gethsemane.” And what comes next is that this–the lead up to my question to Carol—somehow is a, “Gethsemane moment!”

Author: This was a “Gethsemane moment!” As you stay with this “Gethsemane moment,” what begins to happen for you?

Andrea: (Looking down as if to go deep within herself). The words that come are the words of Jesus: “ . . . if it is possible, let this cup pass from me . . .”[iv] Umm!  It is like, “if it is possible, let the cup—the pain associated with posing this question to Carol—pass from me.”  

Author: Let the pain associated with this question pass me by!  As you say this, what do you notice occurring within you?

Andrea: It is like a resistance. For me, in the intensity of the moment, there is resistance! 

Author: A moment—a point of resistance.

Andrea: It is good to name it as such.

Author: And as you name it as resistance, what is your attention drawn to next?

Andrea: (Andrea seemed to be saying words to herself inwardly, as if carefully chewing them over). “. . . yet not what I want but what you want.”[v] Yes, it is: “not what I want but what you want.” And the word that comes now quite clearly is, “surrender!”

Author: There is resistance. Then there is surrender! Surrender to what God wants, and to what God wants in your companioning of Carol. As you come to this surrender, what is your attention drawn to, Andrea?

Andrea: (With some emotion). There is a welling up of courage; courage to step right into this question to Carol.

Author: And as with this courage you step into the question, what happens next?

Andrea: (Though there is still emotion, Andrea begins to smile). Jesus words again: “Get up, let us be going.”[vi] And it is just like that. Be courageous and face the consequences and whatever pain might be in front of us.

Author: Courageous in the face of the consequences; moving forward in the face of the pain. And that did happen!

Andrea: Yes it did. It did happen. Revisiting that intense moment in this way has been very helpful. My previous reflection had been a wondering if this had something to do with my relationship with my mother, even though I was wanted by her. But this has added a profound dimension and enabled me to name my resistance, but also see the point of surrender and the welling up of courage. It has become a profound place for me – a “Gethsemane moment!” Thank you for that.

Author: And thank you, Andrea.

*   *   *   *

My prayer

In revisiting these intense moments, Andrea has had the last word in this chapter. You might like to find your prayer. You could adapt the prayer below if this is helpful.

Lord . . .

. . .continue to shape and form me in the way of Jesus and that, in embodying and reflecting his person, presence and praxis, like Andrea, I might participate with him in undoing heavy burdens and letting the oppressed go free, and so become for pilgrims “like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11, NIV).

                                                                                      Amen

Notes:


[i] Segundo Galilea. The Way of Living Faith. New York: Harper and Row, 1988, 55.
[ii] Ibid, 56.
[iii] Parts of this section draws on, David Augsburger. Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbour. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2006, 88.
[iv] Matthew 26: 39, NRSV.
[v] Ibid.
[vi] Mathew 26: 46, NRSV


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