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5. Offering to pilgrims the invitation and welcome of Jesus


Can the life-giving flow of self-giving and other-receiving which Jesus invites us into—the love and communion which is expressed within the Trinity—flow through us into the lives of pilgrims we meet as guides and companions? We have used the “window” developed from the “Come to me . . .” passage to consider Jesus’ invitation and welcome to us personally. This passage offers us a way of looking at Jesus’ guiding and companioning. Indeed, it offers to us, in a nutshell, the very essence of how to companion in his way. As we look through our “window” at Jesus’ companioning, can we as guides and companions choose personal solidarity and relationship presence over methodology, technique and expertise? (In the following picture we have exchanged the metaphor of window for a door).

This can be challenging for us to fully appreciate when our dominant cultural imagination places highest value on expertise and on technological responses.

It is the person of Jesus we encounter and it is his relational presence to us, through the Spirit, that can form and shape us as guides and companions.

 

 

 


Meet the guide and companion, Andrea

Andrea[1] desires to be formed and shaped in the way of Jesus and, in cooperation with the Spirit, seeks to embody and reflect to each pilgrim Jesus’ solidarity and relational presence. If we observed her through the eyes of our spiritual intuition we would glimpse into the substance of what it means to walk on delicate ground with pilgrims in cooperation with the Spirit. In embodying and reflecting Jesus’ personal solidarity and relational presence, Andrea invites burdened, troubled and searching pilgrims into his rest. Through carrying his lighter yoke on her shoulders, Andrea offers pilgrims a very safe and non-judgmental relational space and is able to gently hold their pain and their contradictions in order that they experience the redeeming and transforming touch of Jesus. Her relational knowing, which continues to deepen, comes through intimacy with Jesus and the gentleness and humility of her heart resonates with his. Pilgrims settle in her presence and find the rest they need to attend to emerges for them.


Extract on from:  Reflected Love: Companioning in the Way of Jesus, page 15 – 16. 

[As I observed Andrea through the one-way screen, she . . .] was sitting in a comfortable upright position, hands held loosely in her lap, body slightly forward, indicating a fully awake and attentive posture. Her tender grey eyes did not stare, but rested softly upon the woman opposite, revealing her humble, tender and compassionate heart. Andrea's gentle demeanour enabled me to slow my observations and to notice what was happening within myself.

As I lingered with Andrea's heart, I imagined bringing it close to my own, and was rather startled when some of my own wounds and scars began to surface. As this troubling sensation settled, I realized that my inner resonance was connecting with the pain and wounding within Andrea, the companion. Like me, she was a wounded healer.

Andrea’s receptivity to the pilgrim displayed a deep sensitivity and vulnerability that was not hidden behind a mask of power or expertise. She did not flinch from pain and was neither afraid nor judgmental about the pilgrim’s story. Though she would acknowledge the conflict that is often close to the core of the human soul, Andrea could spaciously and lovingly hold the pilgrim’s contradictions and actively encourage her inclination towards goodness—the goodness within her that is of God. Her gentle holding of this pilgrim fully reflected Carl Rogers’ three elements of personal congruence, unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding.[2 Even more than that, she could see beyond the pilgrim’s obvious distress and glimpse the inner resourcefulness, beauty and unique image of God that was at her deepest core. Andrea was bringing the whole of her person, her own contradictions and vulnerability along with her genuine and authentic self—the true part found in God—to place it all in the service of the pilgrim.

Notes

[1] Most of the individual entities (like Andrea) in Reflected Love and (like Gideon and his Guide, Julian) in Guiding Gideon are inspired by a number of individuals rather than being the actual story of one person. This is because personal stories are very sacred and confidential and the identity of pilgrims needs to be protected.
[2] Carl Rogers. Carl Rogers on Personal Power. New York: Delacorte Press, 19778–12.


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