Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Discernment is being grasped in the Spirit's arms and led in the rhythms of an unknown dance.

"Spiritual discernment asks us to pay attention. We need to attend to both what goes on around us and within us. Ideally, this attentiveness goes on much of the time, a sort of low level, constant spiritual sifting of the data of our experience. But there are times when discernment becomes much more focused, when a crossroad is reached or a choice called for. At times like these the cumulative wisdom of tradition tells us to pay attention on many levels: to consult Scripture, to seek the advice of trusted advisors, to head the sensum fidelium (the collective sense of the faithful), to read widely and deeply the best ancient and contemporary thinking; to pray, to attend to the prick of conscience and to the yearnings and dreamings of our hearts, to watch, to wait, to listen.

"Discernment is about discriminating: sifting through and evaluating the evidence of our focused attention. It is not, however, identical to problem solving. It is not simply a question of lining up the pros and cons concerning a particular decision we must make and then judging which choice is feasible or determining which gains the most support or which will benefit us, or others, in the long run.

"Discernment is more like the turning of the sunflower to the sun, or the intuitive hunch of the scientist seeking new and creating solutions for unexplainable, contradictory observations, or the restless seeking of a heart longing to find its way home to an estranged lover, or the artistry of the musician, sculptor, or choreographer delineating in sound, stone, or the human body the emergent, self-propellant, rightful line that says, 'yes.''
"Discernment is about feeling texture, assessing weight, watching the plumb line, listening for overtones, searching for shards, feeling the quickening, surrendering to love. It is being grasped in the Spirit's arms and led in the rhythms of an unknown dance."

— Wendy M. Wright, "Passing Angels: The Arts of Spiritual Discernment," Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life, Vol. X, No. 6, Nov/Dec 1995


  1. Maybe my own discernment would be much more skilful, if I could just leave "what I want" out of the the puzzle..

  2. maybe the trick is in realizing that I dance better when I let the Spirit lead!


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