Updated: Feb 1
In the last of 4 blog articles for i4CC Trevor Hudson shares some reflections around how to engage more intentionally in ‘sacred conversations.’ (Excerpted and adapted with permission from his book, DISCOVERING GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE -A User’s Guide to Discernment to be published by Struik Christian Media in November 2021.)
While James encourages us ‘to be slow to speak and quick to listen’, we do also need to speak. It has taken me time to learn this. Because I place great value on listening to others, and asking those wondering questions, I sometimes hold back on sharing what is most real in my own life. One day, my daughter said to me, “Dad you hide behind your listening!” More recently, I have been learning to be more generous in letting others glimpse my own thoughts and what is happening in my life. Putting words to what is happening within us often sheds light on the next step we need to take through life.
Each of us has our own unique story to tell. From the moment of our conception, God has been actively present in every experience, encounter, and event of our lives. Every time we share aspects of our own distinctive story and engage with the unique story of the other person, we have an opportunity to notice how God may be at work within us to realise God’s dream for us. This can be a wonderful stepping-stone in learning to live adventurously with God. It is through listening to the stories of others, asking wondering questions, and sharing our own, that we begin to discern God’s personal will. This is the precious gift that sacred conversations give us.
Whenever we choose to speak about ourselves, we face a choice. Are we going to reveal what is most real or are we going to hide what is most real? Think about your last few significant conversations. Were you able to express what was really going on in your heart and mind, or did you feel the pressure to impress the other person and communicate a certain image of yourself? It can be helpful to become more aware of how we make conversation with those around us. Sacred conversations take place when we can speak honestly, truthfully, and simply from our heart rather than from a place of wanting to look good in the eyes of the other person. This is the case for both our conversations with each other and with God.
For us to move towards sharing what is most real, we need to learn to speak for ourselves in the first person. This can be quite challenging to begin with. Imagine what it would be like for you to begin your sentences with phrases like, “I feel that…’’ “I think that…”’, “I hope that…”, “I long for…”, “I believe that…”, “I sense that…”, “I wonder about…”, “I am fearful of…”, “I am angry about…”. We would find ourselves speaking more personally, more directly, and more simply. Our conversations would shift to another level of depth and meaning. Our capacity for listening to the Spirit’s movement in our heart would be fine-tuned. Discerning God’s personal will becomes a greater reality.
I hope I have encouraged you to engage in more sacred conversations. Would it not it be life-giving, if our faith-communities could become safe spaces for such conversational encounters to take place? Perhaps you could relate in this way with someone in your group, and with someone in your own family and friendship circle?
When we do listen well to each other, ask wondering questions of one another, and share what is most real with each other, we position ourselves to discern God’s personal will much more clearly and responsibly. May having ‘sacred conversations’ with those around you become a natural way of life for you!
If you would like more information on how your small group or faith-community can grow in the art of having ‘sacred conversations’, you can contact the Institute for Creative Conversations at email@example.com. They have developed a seven-week video course aimed at cultivating sacred conversations. On each of these videos I offer a short presentation together with a group process that can be used to help participants discover how to have better conversations in their different life-contexts.
(If you missed the previous posts in this series you can find them here: Part 1 https://www.i4cc.co.za/post/the-importance-of-sacred-conversations-for-discerning-god-s-will-part-1-4