I have been having several conversations lately about mystical experience. For the first time in a long time I launched right into a few of my own stories and experiences with someone who I thought was a safe person. She told me about a Jesuit friend of hers who says, “When someone tells me about something like that, I ask them if they had enough sleep, if they had eaten and if they had a good bowel movement”. I have been processing ever since. If I was with that Jesuit and brought something that I experienced as holy and an encounter with the Mystery to Spiritual Direction and I got that response, I would go underground with it and feel the beauty of it discounted. For all of human history we have tried to alter our consciousness to be directly connected with the Source of being…we meditate, we fast, we dance, we sing. Can we have a “real” embodied experience of God? I have. Maybe the Jesuit hasn’t. We do occasionally experience that connection…beyond words, beyond rational and cognitive thought, beyond feeling. Where is the space to witness, behold and integrate that experience if we can’t bring it into Direction? I am so grateful for those who walk with me into the bewildering Mystery. I’m so grateful for those who trust me with their holy encounters with Love.
Last week we presented the story of the Good Samaritan in our classrooms. This beautiful story from Christianity is, like many stories, multi-layered and complex. In my last reflection I asked for help thinking about our stories and this week I am wondering about the way we tell this one to our children. One of the things I love about Spirit Play is the opportunity for us and for our children to flex our spiritual muscles as we try to make meaning of these sacred stories and how they intersect with our real lives. We wonder together. This process of wondering inherently affirms that there is no one right answer. It affirms that there are many answers and that our answers matter a great deal. It also gives us practice in finding what feels right to us….what our own wisdom and deep truth speak to us when we take time to reflect. It reveals to us the beauty and diversity of our community as we listen to our answers and the answers of others. I know that my own religious education experiences were not like this. I was taught the one right answer. I was taught the moral of the story. When I think about my own experience of learning, I feel deeply that I learn best by exploring. Telling me the answer is a dead end. It is handing me a present which I am expected to leave unwrapped and admire for it’s fancy bow. Asking a question can lead me somewhere, can give me tools and skills I can use to discover make more meaning, to find and keep my balance. This week before class I read our story. And then I looked up some other versions. And then I wondered myself about this story of the good Samaritan. What is this story trying to say? What does it say to me? What does it say to me if it is told one way? What does it say to me if it is told another way? How do I tell this story in a way that feels like a question instead of an answer?
In one version I saw, at the end of the story the teller asks, “Who was the neighbor to this one (the man who was robbed and left for dead)”? And then she asked, “Who was the neighbor to this one (one of the robbers)”? And, “Who was the neighbor to this one (the first man who walked right by and on his way)”? These are questions that are still tugging at my heart this week.
Thank you for wondering together, with our children and with each other.