The secret of the Life of the Spirit, the life lived in, with and for God, lies in knowing God’s voice within us and always following that voice. This active listening and heeding leads us into a co-creative relationship with God. I use this metaphor to describe my life: if my life were an airplane, God is the pilot and I am the co-pilot. There is a lot of back and forth between us, prayer, just being in God’s presence, transforming(done by the Holy Spirit), God thinking through me, some dreams and more. When we co-create with God, we are moving along the trajectory that our very creation implied from the time we were born to the point at which we live out the wholeness, the totality of who we were created to be.
Our wholeness, our voice unimpeded by cultural conditioning or any other limitations, is the end goal of our lifetime here on Earth. Our wholeness, true to who we were created to be, is the end-goal of our creation. And in that wholeness, we find our purpose, meaning and fulfillment: we were each created to speak God’s message with our lives, to help bring about the kingdom here on Earth.
That’s a huge task and one we cannot accomplish on our own. It’s only in the partnership with God, with us as willing participants and God as the transforming Spirit, that we can be all that we were created to be. The first step is to identify the voice of God within, the still small voice. It takes quieting down the “monkey mind” as the Buddhists call it, settling down into our deeper self, so that we can hear the murmurings of God to our spirit. It’s a voice that is often ignored, because what it proposes does not fit the cultural norm or our own self-image. Too often it’s shunted aside as impractical: “I can’t do that!” So it is ignored. Don’t do that anymore! Entertain what the quiet inner voice is saying. Don’t let the louder inner voices drown it out.
Look for a sense that what is proposed is something you might have dreamed of, something that might be natural to you, something that will be engaging, or something that is challenging you. Look for resonance within. Think of how you will be if you accept what is being offered? Would this be good for you and anyone else involved? Is this really the next step for you? Is this just gratifying my ego or the larger self? These questions come from the process of discerning God’s voice. The end result of taking God’s counsel is a growing awareness of and confidence in who you are, a burgeoning sense of purpose and deep connectedness, a sense of being in a step-by-step individually designed curriculum that is just meant to bring you to wholeness.
Your responses to God’s offerings must be “Yes!” even if it takes you a while to get to the yes. Over time as you practice saying “yes” to God’s call, it becomes such a habit that you never really entertain a “no.” As you built the habit, you begin to say yes to the harder things as well, because that has been your practice all along. And even later you realize that you are being asked to say “yes” to all that life offers you, the good things and the difficult.
The steps can be huge: “write a blog” or tiny “go home a different route” or “say this now to the person right here” and often are incomprehensible until you see the face of the person you repeated God’s suggestion to or see in retrospect that writing a blog is only the first step in another journey of writing. “Rest,” “watch tv,” “write about this,” “call this person” are all things God has said to me. Last fall it was “attend a 30-day Ignatian retreat” which I am doing this summer. I have studied photography, magazine writing and acting, all suggested, I think, to improve my voice, the ability to speak truth as I see it. I have trained as a spiritual director and supervisor of spiritual directors. I have traveled to Haiti twice. And the books! So many books have come into my life at the right time and place, again the next step on my journey.
Your motivation for doing things moves from how you think things should be or what you should do to being totally generated by the Spirit. Often our own motivations are really about how others think about us, not what we actually want to be doing. The Spirit leads us into integral action that will in the long run be more successful than our own attempts based mainly on cultural norms or what others think. The Spirit’s promptings, if we follow them, align us, transform us, and are beneficial to all people. Actions generated by the Holy Spirit are totally congruent with our own deepest desires and with God’s will, of course.