I just finished participating with almost 30 people in FUMCFW’s Thursday morning Be the Bridge book discussion group. There was much caring and compassionate soul searching, especially in the small groups. I think it was good for everyone involved.
After we finished today, I was reminded of twenty-five years ago when I was a chaplain at a psychiatric and addictions treatment hospital. It’s a bit like we (especially white people) have been addicted to systemic racism. And we are newly discovering that we have more levels of denial.
For people who came to the hospital as patients, their lives had become broken and unmanageable. But for those who could begin to trust, be truly present to their own soul and the souls of others, and could admit their vulnerability and shame, they could often discover a new hope through grace and find a firm foundation for recovery (particularly through working step 1 of the 12-Step Program).
It didn’t take long working at the hospital before I realized that the best counselors and others who were a significant help as a healing presence, shared something in common. They all knew from the struggles of their own journey, how to be deeply present to others as “wounded healers.”
They had many different areas of professional education, but the best at facilitating a community of healing had learned how crucial it is to be deeply honest with ourselves, and lament from a place of humility and compassion.
They all had experienced their own brokenness, learned ways to honor their own process of lament, and had awakened to a higher power deep within, that connected them with the healing power of compassion and love.
In that time over twenty-five years ago, I had a dream about “the Lost Coin” (Lk 15:8-10). But from that particular dream, I sensed it was more about a part of ourselves that gets lost, than being about other people. I sensed that it was as if we each have an essential coin of “calling” that emerges from our own experiences of being lost and broken. If we are too busy and distracted, we never find that essential coin of calling. It doesn’t matter how much “money” we make if it isn’t rooted in deep purpose and compassion. But when we experience God’s healing and wholeness through our vulnerability, we discover our own deep healing, our unique gifts of compassion, and become more able to hear God’s calling to us to help bring healing to others.
There are many ways besides the 12-Step Program to become aware of God’s healing Presence. And that is exactly what we will be exploring in the new “Practicing Prayerful Presence” groups.
This group is open to anyone, we meet every week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:30 am. And you don’t have to attend regularly. It’s more about experiencing God’s grace in the rhythms of our lives. The intentional presence and process itself is about holy hospitality and deep listening. It helps us discern God’s calling to us, (wherever we may be), to be God’s people in the world and instruments of both God’s Peace and Justice.
Dr. Len Delony
Associate Pastor of Spiritual Formation