Sifting your own experience
For those of us who are trying to live a spiritual life, this activity is commonly closely related to prayer – for it is in such times of reflection that we most often notice, the ‘still small voice’ of God. The invitation being offered here is to find some time and space for personal spiritual reflection and, should you be so drawn, to bring the fruit of that reflection to conversation with others. We will be providing stimulus material to aid this process and how you engage with this material is very much up to you. But if you feel that you could do with a bit of advice you may want to try the following.
- Allow yourself some time to think and pray. Decide how long you have got and be content with that – though feel free to take longer if you find yourself particularly engaged.
- Find a favourite place where you feel comfortable, away from the obvious distractions of noise and other people.
- Mark the place as special by placing before yourself some symbol of the sacred that has particular meaning for you – it could be a cross, a lit candle, an image or photograph, or an open Bible.
- Spend some time becoming relaxed, deliberately breathing more slowly than normal and gradually let the tension in your body dissolve. Try not to think about anything in particular.
- Become aware that you are in the presence of God and offer your own words of welcome and gratitude.
- When you are composed, turn all your attention to the reading or image you want to consider. Take you time, savouring those parts of it that resonate with your own personal experience.
- As you do so you may be reminded of things from your past or stories from your present; people that you care about or who challenge you in some way; things that were said to you or things you said; songs you have heard, films you have seen or favourite poems or prayers.
- Allow yourself to follow where you feel particularly drawn – don’t feel that you have to work out an answer to what you are considering.
- Throughout this time remember that you are in the presence of someone who loves you, someone you can talk to in complete freedom. As St. Teresa of Avila observed: “Once they are conscious of Our Lord’s presence within their souls they need only look upon him and conversation will follow…a relaxed conversation, with moments of silence, as there must be between friends.”
When you are ready, look back on your reflections and record anything significant, either on the relevant booklet provided or your own Spiritual Journal. There may be things you wish to remember that are for you alone, while other thoughts, questions or feelings you might want to share with others.