Heart Hospitality: An Invitation to Conversation
I am a ballroom dancer. The conversation between partners, the lead and the follow, is one of wordless articulation. The lead initiates the story: go here, turn there, spin right then pause … and go. The follow listens intently with the entire body for nuances of inward expression to match the lead’s steps.
Spiritual direction follows a similar pattern. The dance of dialogue through storytelling and holy listening is breathtaking to behold.
Just as the lead in ballroom dancing weaves the story through movement, soul-deep listening attunes spiritual companions to discernment in a fluid conversation. Both director and directee are in powerful positions of choice.
Much of the spiritual direction that I provide is through distance communication, most often via the telephone and occasionally through video conference. Push back from advocates of face-to-face spiritual direction usually comes with the complaint that on telephone conversations the aid of body language is missing for truly significant spiritual direction. However, distance communication, much like the wordless dance partners, enhances listening skills as the storyteller and listener focus full attention upon the voice, the pauses, the hesitancies, and the speed of speech as the presence of The Divine swells among directee and director.
The mysterious connection through distance communication – an unseen and yet palatable sense of holy - reminds me of the mysterious unseen Christian connection of the risen Christ. The Holy Spirit of God is unseen, is distance communication, and yet close enough to the heart to be a palatable presence of Divine energy, anointing the conversation for truly significant spiritual direction.
When conversation partners engaging in the dance of dialogue open their hearts with the fullness of hospitality to receive the other, then new possibility is unleashed. This is when the Divine dance of interior formation shapes both the storyteller and listener. This interior attitude of receiving the other is imperative in our pluralistic world today as our heart hospitality must go before us in every conversation that we have.
I invite you this day to the discipline of intentional conversation, not just in spiritual direction sessions, but within each conversation you have (face-to-face or via distance communication). I invite you to practice the discipline of Heart Hospitality. As you enter a conversation ponder: “How will I engage in the dance of dialogue in this conversation?” Whether you are speaking with another shopper at the supermarket, the cashier or a friend, consider: “How will I listen beyond the surface to the hunger of the heart?” Or when receiving your child, grandchild or dear friend with open-heart hospitality, “How will I encourage this loved one to interior listening and an even greater acceptance of self?”
May the dance of dialogue and Heart Hospitality be ever before us.
Dr. Rev. Brenda Buckwell is an author (weekly blog at http://www.livingstreamsflowingwater.com/brendas-blog/) and the founder of Living Streams Flowing Water. She is a United Methodist Endorsed spiritual director, coach, and educator. Brenda has extensive experience in practical application of spiritual direction for training small group leaders and educators. By weaving together spiritual direction (Mercy Center), theology and leadership (Garrett-Evangelical Seminary), she empowers persons to exceed their current level of leadership. With an online teaching certification, she is adjunct at Ashland Seminary, teaches for GBHEM UMC Cyber Campus, Garrett-Evangelical Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation and CenterQuest. In addition to spiritual direction, two of Brenda’s favorite spiritual disciplines are swimming and ballroom dancing. The delight of life is her grandchildren for whom she strives to be Amma.