What image of God were you presented with early on? Some are taught an image of God who desires fear and obedience, and others are taught compassion and forgiveness. How do we reconcile conflicting images? The alternative orthodoxy invites us to journey together in co-responsibility toward greater love. Living together inside God’s Great Story asks that we simply trust in God’s presence in everyone and everything.
“We are co-responsible with and for one another, especially for the poor and excluded. We are co-responsible for the life of the natural environment, showing gratitude and respecting nature’s proper limits, not pushing the planet to the brink of ecological disaster.”
—Father Michael Perry, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor
“Fr. Michael Perry reminds us that we have a shared vocation to support and complete one another and to be co-responsible with and for one another,” writes Rev. SeiFu Anil Singh-Molares. “This resonates deeply with me—as a Zen priest, a spiritual companion, and the executive director of Spiritual Directors International (SDI).”
Connecting Through Deep Listening
Spiritual Directors International (SDI) is on a mission to help people become more spiritually intimate. Seekers can connect with spiritual directors and companions through their online database and conferences like Engage 2022. “These experienced listeners represent many spiritual traditions and inclinations. They hold space, being present to any one of us, so that we can hear our inner and authentic voices,” writes Rev. SeiFu. “They meet us where we are. And through this practice, help change the world for the better as we learn to listen to all voices, starting with our own.” Think of a time when you were truly heard. How did that affect your truest, deepest self?
“Spiritual directors and companions are deep listeners who invite those they companion to engage with their deepest selves to find wholeness and healing,” Rev. SeiFu writes. “The relationship that grows from spiritual direction / companionship is, by its very nature, a co-responsible one. Deep listening builds the bridge.”
“But both the companion and the one being companioned must create and nurture a relationship of trust for there to be spiritual progress,” Rev. SeiFu continues. “Mutuality is at the heart of the practice. And this trust in our companioning partner allows us to seek the deep truth that leads us to love.”
When a stranger becomes a companion, all the world changes—for the better.—Engage 2022
Engaging Through Deep Listening
“Deep listening is a vital modality and metaphor for healing on a very large scale,” Rev. SeiFu writes. “All healing depends on relationships – within, among and beyond. The paradigm of deep listening can be a way to engage, grow and improve the lives of people all around the world.”
“Imagine—what if everyone met everyone else with the attention and affirmation that spiritual companions offer?” asks Rev. SeiFu. “What if we all listened to each other – with enough space and silence to include the divine, God, the universe, or however one defines the ground of all being? Imagine if we all were co-responsible for each other – and engaged for our mutual benefit. We all know we can do better in this respect.”
Reflect With Us
What practices do you use to engage in deep listening? What are some barriers to overcome? Share your reflection with us.
We Conspire is a new series from the Center for Action and Contemplation featuring wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Sign up for the monthly email series and receive a free invitation to practice each month.