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The Magic of Presence


Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you don’t have a clue what is going on? And yet, you are aware that something is happening? That was my experience recently.


My grandson had a math test in pre-calculus, which he finds challenging. He asked me to come over to help him as he studied. So, I sat with him, staring at all the hieroglyphics on the page, searching back through my brain, wondering if I ever knew how to do this stuff.




He began to talk about what he was finding on the math site on his phone. I listened. Mostly I didn’t understand a word of what he was saying. And that was not where the magic was. Because I was with him, he talked through the process, explaining, unpacking the steps. Then he stopped, looked at me, and grinned. “You really don’t get this, do you? I am really just talking to myself, explaining it to myself!” I laughed. “No, I don’t get it!” I am considered the math whiz in my family, but I was way out of my depth here. And that was okay. My being there sparked his talking out loud. And, as he talked, he gained greater understanding. That to me is where the magic is.





I came away, still having no idea how to do the math, but overwhelmed with a fresh appreciation of the value of presence. And, in essence, that is what happens in Spiritual Direction. Your director sits with you, offering his/her supportive presence. You talk, unpacking the thoughts that have been circling in your mind, as it were explaining to yourself what is going on. So, you process your thoughts. Often insight will come. Spirit whispers; your director notices; you listen. The value of being together becomes clear. Jesus promised, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” Solomon wrote that, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.”


This is a wonderful description of what happens in Spiritual Direction. While we use the word, “director”, we recognize that the real director of what is happening is God. We sit together in His presence. He is the one who really knows what you are trying to understand or make sense of in your life. Your director listens—to you, to God and to him/herself. As you talk, you also listen—to yourself, to God and to any thoughts from your director. Tears may come—of sorrow, but also of joy. You begin to “see” what God is inviting you to. This is the “magic” of presence—the mystery of this God who is more for you than you are for yourself; the mystery of who God is and how he takes the ordinary things of our lives and uses them to lead us into greater understanding of ourselves and of His purpose for us. The places where you feel stuck and unsure of what to do become clearer as you share them with a caring, compassionate person in the presence of a loving God. Are you ready to enter the mystery?


-Wendy Dunn

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