by Reverend SeiFu Anil Singh-Molares
Regardless of whether we describe ourselves as Spiritual Directors, Companions, Guides, or some other designation, all authentic practitioners of our calling share common elements, some of which we previously discussed here: https://www.sdicompanions.org/docs/media/listen/14-2/14-2-listen-2020-04.pdf
In this context we often say things like: “spiritual direction is not going to a bar with some friends, and discussing God over a few drinks.” By which we mean that it is not an occasional trifle, but a serious, determined commitment and undertaking. Given the intention we place on it, this invites further reflection on what characterizes the relationship we have with our directees, companionees, or those we guide, or walk alongside.
In some sense, our relationships are ones of “radical companioning,” that is even beyond the type of intimacy that one finds between lovers, or a mother and her child, or other sorts of more recognizable “intimacy,” no matter how profound these can be.
“Our relationship is truly “radical” because our communion will stop at nothing until we remember that we are spiritually authentic only beyond ourselves.”
Illustration by Matt Whitney
We are not “co-“
or “inter-“ anything,
but rather so tightly bound
as to be inseparable. There is no
“me” and “thee” here, there is no “other.” And
we have no choice in the matter, regardless of
what we may choose to think or believe.
Radical companionship is primordial and eternal, in that it recognizes that we are never separate from one another, but forever bound, and inextricably entwined. It is even beyond such catchy concepts as “interdependent,” and reflects a closeness with God and the Universe beyond simple transactions and interactions. So much so that we are not “co-“ or “inter-“ anything, but rather so tightly bound as to be inseparable. There is no “me” and “thee” here, there is no “other.” And we have no choice in the matter, regardless of what we may choose to think or believe.
We can’t help being one. We just are.
So, the challenge is the recognition, or more precisely the “remembering” of true radical intimacy. An intimacy even beyond itself. Which reveals a companionship beyond our ability to describe it with these blunt instruments we call words. And while we can certainly intellectualize it, as I am doing right now, it really is remembered only through experience and faith. And reborn of profound, contemplative ungrounding.
When companion and companioned look into each other, we recognize mirror images, and those images snap back together, as Matt Whitney’s beautifully evocative illustration invokes.
Our relationship is truly “radical” because our communion will stop at nothing until we remember that we are spiritually authentic only beyond ourselves. As we literally disappear and manifest into the essence of God and the Universe. An essence that does not dissipate, that does not waver, and that does not break or fragment, but always remains incorruptible, beyond life and death itself.
In it, perspective, insight and wisdom reside, and not the stuff of fairytales, but the transcendent impermanent, and the unbound wholeness of the Eternal.
Then, in a flash, divine intimacy. The mystic journey. Our lives flash before our eyes in an instant, and not just ours, but everyone’s. So that we can truly swallow stars, and imbibe the entire Universe.
That is true commitment. That is radical. And that it what spiritual companionship really entails.
HOW DOES ONE CAPTURE
How does one capture
when light begins to fade
deep in the canyon
while high overhead
the sky still speaks of sunlight?
…when the sweet tang of tamarack
becomes the headiest perfume
you’ll ever know?
…when river song calls
to a yearning deep inside you
to follow an unknown road?
…when grace falls like rain
out of a clear blue sky?
The sublime impossibility
in this one
Sue Magrath is a spiritual director, writer, poet, and retreat leader. She is the author of Healing the Ravaged Soul: Tending the Spiritual Wounds of Child Sexual Abuse. Sue lives and works in north central Washington state.
When you see
In Malta I saw
The Beheading of the Baptist
Leaned in so far
I got a warning –
Bathed in light
A brutal darkness is enacted
John in life
I have never tried
What I can do
To be spoken aloud
I will paint with words
Bring out the light and dark-
Der hl. Matthäus schreibt sein Evangelium mit Hilfe eines Engels
Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Brian Fahy is a former priest and a former mediator for separating parents in child related issues. He writes poetry every day.
Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu - chapter 50
Between birth and death,
Three in ten are following life,
Three in ten are following death,
And people just passing from birth to death also number three in ten.
Why is this so?
Because they live their lives on the gross level.
They who know how to live can walk abroad
Without fear of rhinoceros or tiger.
He will not be wounded in battle.
For in them rhinoceroses can find no place to thrust their horn,
Tigers can find no place to use their claws,
And weapons no place to pierce.
Why is this so? Because they have no place for death to enter.
(translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English)
(translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English)
Adapted by Rev. SeiFu)
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team
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Executive Director and Editor: Rev. Seifu Anil Singh-Molares
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