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7. The pilgrim reviews the encounter


Carol’s review of her companioning encounter


 


Pilgrims play a vital role in the ongoing formation of their guides and companions. This is certainly been my experience, and it continues. Here we have an opportunity to work with a review that Carol provides some little time after her session with Andrea. There will be three main areas in which Carol can help us undertake our own appraisal of key elements that we have encountered as we have considered the person, presence and praxis of the guide.

1. The golden thread of grace—the movement of the Holy Spirit within Carol during and after the session.

 

2. The way in which Andrea embodies and reflects to Carol the way of Jesus, including:

  1. Jesus’ “Come to me . . .” Andrea invites Carol into his place of rest which enables her to move beneath her ordinary everyday awareness into her deeper spiritual awareness.
     
  2. Andrea engages in Jesus’ dance with Carol’s resistance, in order that the deeper spring of living water might bubble up from within her.
     
  3. Andrea follows Jesus’ movement towards Carol’s wounding and pain.
     
  4. Andrea steps back as Jesus becomes manifest in order that Carol might receive his transforming touch. 
     

3. Carol' movement towards greater inner freedom and finding rest for her soul.

We will enter Carol’s experience via a Psalm.

Reflective Reading – Psalm 36:7-10, NRSV.  

 

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your salvation to the upright of heart!

 

Use your first reading to place yourself right within the embrace of God’s steadfast and unfailing love.  Spend time basking in God’s embrace. During your second reading, notice the metaphor or image with which you resonate most. Remain prayerfully attentive and allow time for the Holy Spirit to awaken to this metaphor or image stirring within you. 

During your third reading, invite Carol to be present with you in God’s embrace and within the richness of this Psalm—acknowledging these words, metaphors and images as personally offered to each of you. 

 

 

As you continue in your prayerful reflection, ask the Holy Spirit to open the eyes and ears of your heart to witness how the troubled Carol is being invited to: take shelter under the shadow of God’s wings; feast on the abundance of God’s house; and, be offered drink from the river of God’s delights.
 


Carol’s review her session


Author: Carol, in looking back over your session with Andrea, could you say something of what happened for you?

Carol: There was so much that happened in that fifty-five minutes, and also since that session. And yet, as you ask that question, there is something very real that comes to mind. Andrea in her gentleness drew me to her and as she did so, I was drawn deeper into the person of myself.

Author: You were drawn to Andrea, and in that being drawn, you were drawn to something deeper in yourself.

Carol: Definitely! (Carol paused for a few moments as if to reflect more on what she had just said). Though Andrea said nothing of what was happening within her, I knew that the pain which I was experiencing was touching her very deeply; touching her right to her core. On the occasions that I glanced up, I could see it in her eyes. And her eyes revealed her heart. What I saw in her made it safe and possible for me to journey very deeply. And she was right with me, every step of the way.

Author: What you were experiencing touched Andrea very deeply. You say this made it safe for you to journey deeply. You also said you were being drawn more deeply into the person of yourself. Could you say a little more about that?

Carol: Well, first of all, there is something more I am now noticing about Andrea. What I saw reflected back to me through her eyes was not the frantic, driven, obsessed, running and weeping woman; the person of myself who was unwanted. It was the realer person of me that existed below all of that. (Carol paused). Below all that . . . and what is coming to me now, if it makes any sense is, and before all of that.

Author: The real person you are “below” all that experience and even “before” it.

Carol: Yes. In that session the grief and the pain of all that had happened somehow fell into place through my becoming intensely and consciously aware of it. Though I knew my experience, in that session and through Andrea’s being fully present to me, I came to know it in a new and profound way. Up to that time I suppose I would have to admit I looked at myself as “damaged goods!” But I glimpsed far deeper than that. There was the very core of who I am that had remained intact. Even more than that, it was desirable; I was desirable. Being unwanted by my mother has been a wounding that goes way beyond words. (Carol became tearful).  But through the window of that wound I have come to know right here (pointing to her solar plexus) that I am profoundly desired by my Heavenly Parent. I am a child of God, desired into existence by a loving Creator.

Author: You moved from considering yourself as “damage goods,” to glimpse how you were completely intact at your very core, unwanted by your mother, and yet desired into existence as a child of God! 

Carol: Wow! Did I just say all that? As I hear it aloud, there is such a deep ring of truth in all of that. Yes there is truth, but what I really want to say is: “This is me; I am!”

Author: This is more than just truth about your experience. It is who you truly are!

Carol: You asked before about what happened to me in that session, and I would add, and since that session. For the session has been a catalyst for much more. I would have to say that I experienced a far larger life opening up in me. I was being drawn to be “more myself,” to be more, to grow, to expand in abundance, and to give more of myself![i] That’s all a bit of a mouthful. I hope that makes sense. At least it’s making more sense to me even as I say it.

Author: To come into a fuller awareness of whom you truly are, to grow into abundance of that awareness, and to give more of who you really are! Am I just getting some of that?

Carol: Yes, that is it! (Carol fell silent and deeply thoughtful. Tears began to appear). All of that did happen. But, somehow and I am not sure why, I am being drawn back to the intensity and pain of it all.

Author: To the intensity and the pain of that experience. Can you say a little more about the pain and the intensity?

Carol: It was as if I was dying. It was that intense, and it was that painful. As I acknowledge it now, I realise I was indeed dying. Why am I saying now that I was dying? (Carol paused as if to ponder her question). This might sound odd, but some of the words of Jesus are coming to me as if to draw my attention. “. . . unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.[ii] (Carol repeated these words quietly to herself, as if to chew them over).

Author: As a single grain you were put into the ground to then rise up into the abundance of who you are.

Carol: It did seem a dark place which that grain of me was placed in (Carol spoke slowly and thoughtfully). But it was more like a “womb” than earth. Even though, there was all that pain and intensity about dying and letting go of “damaged goods.” Then a painful rebirth! And yet, there was also some safety and containment in that womb. (Carol paused). Thank God for Andrea! Yes, thank you God for Andrea! She held me in your (God’s) embrace; in the embrace of your (God’s) self-giving and sacrificial love. That is exactly what she did. She held me in your embrace so I could die and rise-up into the fullness of the life you have given me and desire for me. What was true for him (Jesus) is now true for me! Dying to become more of who I truly am and, now like him, my desire is that the larger life which is opening up in me will overflow to bring his restoration to others.

Author: A dying and a rising up!

Carol: As we talk now about the dying and the rising up, I can see more clearly that it was a death to my preoccupation, or to be more precise, to my self-identification with my thoughts, my emotions, my freneticness, my wounding, my pain and my images. It has been a death to all that pointed to being “damaged goods.” It is a resurrection—a rising, and awakening—into a new way of being and seeing. It is a turning around—a conversion, a metanoia—that affects all of me; my conscious awareness, my relationships with myself, with my neighbor, with the material world around me, and with my God, and my way of being in the world. And when I think about my use of the word “conversion,” I am reminded of the words of Jesus: ‘I come that they may have life, and to have it to the full.’[iii]  I think this about sums it up for me.

* * * * *

The golden thread of grace

In your second reading of Carol’s review, pay particular attention to the inner movements of the Holy Spirit in the experiences that Carol describes. Open yourself to be guided by the Spirit in this period of exploration and awakening.

Such inner movements and stirrings of the Spirit may be difficult to express in direct speech. In your journal, make an effortless drawing or a simple poetic response to the work of the Holy Spirit in Carol’s life. As the response will come from your own resonance, it can also be a response to the Spirit’s work in your own life.

Reflecting and embodying the way of Jesus

It can be both informative and encouraging to look, from Carol’s perspective, at how Andrea embodied and reflected the way of Jesus in her response to her. If you looked through the transcript and simply replace Andrea’s name with Jesus’ name, I wonder what you would notice. You might try this and jot down your noticing in your Journal.

 

Checklist for your noticing

Did you notice:

Yes

No

Unsure

The invitation of “Come to me. . .” inviting Carol into the divine embrace—into the flow of self-surrendering love of God, the Trinity?

 

 

 

The offer of a relational space of rest in which Carol could move beneath the level of her ordinary, everyday level awareness, her worried-filled mind, her “stuckness,” into her deeper awareness, including spiritual awareness?

 

 

 

Did you notice how this extraordinary love (with such mutuality and reciprocity) enabled Carol to move into the deeper rhythms of her own story and to find what she needed for her healing and restoration?

 

 

 

The openness of the companion’s heart to experience the hurt and pain?

 

 

 

Did you notice the movement beyond Carol’s resistance (possibly the resistances and fears that dominated her past) into deeper interior realms where streams of living water were able to flow?

 

 

 

Did you notice the movement towards the wounding and the pain and the opening of such places for healing and restoration?

 

 

 

Did you notice the transforming touch?                                       Cont . . .

 

 

 

Did you also notice:

 

 

 

How Andrea’s name became less and less, and how this might reflect a seamless movement between her own companioning and the shepherding, guiding and companioning of Jesus through the power of the Spirit?

 

 

 

The movement more into the fullness of Carol’s person and true identity as it was mirrored back to her in the person of the companion?

 

 

 

 

I also noticed:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom and rest for the soul

Through entering your active and believing imagination, have a conversation with Carol about how you are both finding more inner freedom and rest for your soul as you open yourselves more and more to the shepherding, guiding and companioning of Jesus.

Then, with Psalm 36:7-10 alongside you, conclude your review by writing a prayer response on behalf of Carol and yourself.

 

My prayer response

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house, 
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, 
and your salvation to the upright of heart!

My response . . .                                                                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:


[i] Barry, William.  A Friendship Like No Other. Chicago: Loyola, 2008, 12, suggests that when God desires that humankind, ‘be fruitful and multiply,’ (Genesis 1:28), there is something of the flavour of, “more yourself,” be more, grow, be all that you can be!
[ii] John 12: 24, NRSV.
[iii] John 10: 10, NRSV.