The Quakers have a saying: “An enemy is one whose story we have not heard.” The enemies in our lives can be many. Most are people we’ve never met and don’t know. Our enemies, more often than not, are the people we judge with our opinions and assumptions.
In the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico Fr. Richard Rohr states that the most important word in their title is the word “and”. “For it is both a contemplative lifestyle and a journey of action that leads us on the path that Jesus is setting before us.”
It is through meditation on scripture, and contemplative or silent practices of prayer where we make space for God to hear our story. We don’t have to speak, we only need to be present. In this silence we begin to understand that God is no longer against us. In silence we can sit in his loving presence. There is no anger, wrath or judgment as he sits with our story. It is here where we can begin to sense his great compassion for us and his deep and abiding love.
Contemplation then should lead us to action. This is where we take our friendship with God and sit in the presence of others to hear their story. If one thinks that every homeless person needs to get off drugs and get a job they can become one of those ‘enemies’. There’s a way out of this judgment, come down to the Saint Francis Catholic Soup Kitchen (https://stfrancissoupkitchen.org/) and sit with and serve the guests and hear their stories. It can change how we see them.
Maybe someone feels like those that are incarcerated should never be released, especially into our neighborhoods. Come and join a team that meets with a group of men at Soledad Prison or Santa Cruz Main Jail and hear their stories of how they have been transformed by Jesus through their prison experience.
Another avenue of storytelling is to be in Spiritual Direction. In Spiritual Direction as we share our story with a Director we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal how God has been present in our day to day life. Present in places where we least expect him to be. You can find a spiritual director at companionsforyourjourney.com or Jayne can connect you with someone in her network of Directors.
Listening becomes the way to deeper transformation, listening in silence to God and listening to others. Listening our way into the likeness of Christ.
Rich and Jayne