Some time ago, I was a team member at a healing retreat for women in recovery. The women all had some kind of addiction to drugs or alcohol, and they all admitted that they did some shameful things in order to feed it.
Through the course of the retreat, the women were given the opportunity to share their entire story in an environment that was confidential, nonjudgmental and loving. As they shared, I could not help but think they were modern-day Mary Magdalenes waiting for Christ to love them into being. Then I realized that Christ had no hands but mine; no voice but mine; no words but mine.
There was one young woman who, even though she journeyed through the 12 steps of AA, admitted that she did not really believe that Christ could love her. The Holy Spirit “poked” me to do something. I called her by name (changed it for this article). “Sylvia!” Her eyes were glued to the floor. I continued, “Look at me!” She shook her head no and bit her lip. I said again, slowly with much emphasis, “Sylvia. Look. At. Me!” When she finally did, I said, “You are loveable! Believe that!” Her eyes went down again. I knelt in front of her. I whispered, “Sylvia, look at me.” She raised her eyes. I said, “I love YOU!” She began to wail and said, “I really believe you do! You are the first person who does!”
This made me cry!
I could not help think of this experience as I continue my series on listening. Kay Lindahl, author of The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice, writes, “Think about a time when someone truly listened to you. … Time stood still. A sense of sacred was present.” 1
All of us hunger for the sacred – even if we don’t know we’re searching for it. The tiny step of stopping for a moment, being quiet and pondering can create the space so the Sacred can be incarnated within us. Yes … I’ll repeat it! Pondering creates the space so the Sacred can be born in us; making God real to us, making Love real in a broken world! When we speak within that space, our words come from our soul; the place where we are made in the image and likeness of God. By pondering, we slow down our thinking process, take time to reflect and listen to the small voice of our being. It allows us to see with “new eyes” the things that are hidden in plain sight. It allows us to see as God sees!
It is true that we all have a “Sylvia” that is buried deep within us. By pondering, we open ourselves to the presence of God who, with arms forever opened, cries out in a whisper, “I REALLY love Y.O.U!” Ponder on that!
1Lindahl, Kay. The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice. SkyLight Paths Pub., 2002. Pg. 668-70.
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness