“Have you ever had anyone listen to you? I don’t just mean hear you, I mean listen to you? I did once – and I have never forgotten it,” writes Mother Hilda Scott OSB. Source: The Bridge.
I came to someone laden with my very real concerns. I was young, at a crossroads and my journey could have gone any direction at all. I remember the priest concerned listened, he left spaces for silence which gave me room to think, he spoke sparingly as though he was treading on sacred ground, he asked the odd question which enabled me to speak further into my pain and finally he made a life-changing remark: “You don’t want to carry that for the rest of your life like extra baggage, do you?”
Indeed, I did not. This spiritual companion, in everything he was before me, his gentle acceptance, told me that I, in my lostness, mattered to God; that God was close, even though I could not feel Him. He gave me to understand that there was a future and left me with the distinct sense of a compassionate God.
I shall never forget that night so long ago now, or the morning that followed, or the days that followed after that. Darkness lifted.
My spiritual companion left me to claim life for myself and here I am telling the story almost 50 years later. That is the essence of spiritual accompaniment.
It is a calling. It is not something one takes upon oneself; to do that is so very often to mar the work of God.
Mother Hilda Scott OSB is Abess at Jamberoo Abbey, New South Wales.
Listening with God: Spiritual Accompaniment (The Bridge)