Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Midweek Meditation: "Nouwen on Discernment 5" (Exercises)

TITLE: Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life

Exercises for Deeper Discernment

  1. Discernment is about seeing, knowing, and being known. Do you want to be seen by God? Do you want to be truly known, with all your inner thoughts and outer activities laid out before an all-seeing, all-knowing God? Write a personal letter to God openly and honestly looking at the areas of life you are not sure you want God to investigate. Of course, God knows these things already. This is an exercise for you to see what areas of your life you might want to keep private. Once you identify them, pray that God will help you see yourself (and these tender areas) fully as God sees you.
  2. People who are "reborn from above" (John 3:7) are those who seek to do what is pleasing to the Spirit of God. Make a list of all the activities and desires of your heart that you believe are pleasing to God. Try to write a poem or hymn of praise or gratitude for all God's goodness that overflows into your life.
  3. Define your spiritual community. Who is allowed to know you and hold you accountable? If you have identified people who know you at a soul level, take a moment to write them a note of thanks for their role in your life. If you did not identify persons who have free range in your life to lift you up and encourage you, begin to pray about who to cultivate as a spiritual companion and how to do it. Discernment performed alone often can become delusion. We need each other.
  4. What shared practices (meditation, prayer, songs, Eucharist, silence, service in the world) are your most natural pathways to listening to God in your daily life? Reflect on the times when you discerned God's presence. What were you doing? Where were you? What insight might these reflections give you about your need for sacred time and sacred space?

(Henri Nouwen, on "Embracing the Practice in Solitude and Community" in Discernment, New York: NY, HarperOne, 2013, 18-19)

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