Spiritual Directors International

The Home of Spiritual Companionship

How to Look For What Shimmers

Guest Author: 
Denise Brill

I live on the California coast within a few blocks from the beach. One of my favorite pastimes to do after a storm blows through is to go beachcombing for sea glass. I tend to lose myself in this activity of slow walking on the wet sand when the tide is low. I look with intention along the shore for what shimmers in the sunlight. This afternoon there was a minus tide and the ocean’s waves have done all the work, churning up the rocks, so they lay like carefully placed pebbles tossed in a formation upon the shore.

I walk in a zigzag while gazing to see what treasures catch the eye. I pick up a shiny green and turquoise piece of smooth glass which is a treat of a find. There are lots of white translucent and clear pieces of glass that shimmer forth and a few root-beer browns that look like deep golden amber.

Recently a new directee came to me in a state of panic, wondering if she was having a nervous breakdown. Everything in her life had come to an abrupt stop with various losses, a job position and family members moving away. This is a frantic and deep place where she is looking to find an anchor in the storm. So, we sit together in non-activity and wait to see what comes up to the surface, what shimmers forth.

After a while as she unpacks her story of running businesses, being in control of making everything in her life happen and now trying to figure it all out, she sighs in utter exhaustion from the telling. “Let’s just sit here awhile,” I say. “What are you hearing through all of this in your soul? Is there something for you now to do or not to do?”

This has been a slow work, waiting and watching as she struggles to come up for air. I hear from her that she must give up control and that is a scary place for someone that always makes things happen.

“Where is God now in the midst of this giving up?” I ask.

She presses in and leans back into presence when answering, “Perhaps He is here but not in the way I am used to?”

Ah, I see something shimmering there. Here is a good place for a pause. Just as I would look at the glass shimmering there on the sand and pick it up. I want to press in and have her really take a deep look at this topic. But she is not quite ready to pick it up when I inquire. So, it just lays there waiting for her. We end our session there.

I reflect on that afternoon walking along the shore several times over. Whenever I would walk by a second time, something different would appear that I hadn’t seen before. It takes that intentional look and overall gaze before you can recognize something ready to emerge and then receive it as a gift.

The waiting and watching.  For my directee. For me as a spiritual director. For me as I walk the shore. Perhaps we all find treasure this way – through patient discovery.

Denise Brill, in her own words: "Birthed out of my own contemplative pursuit with Ignatian Spirituality, God has given me a desire to companion others on their spiritual journey. My passion is to help develop a greater intimacy with God through discovering the beauty within and in the world around them. I offer spiritual direction and debriefing, lead spiritual formation groups and guided retreats upon request. I received a certificate in spiritual direction from Sustainable Faith. Art, poetry and gardening are my sacred spaces as well as being a benedictine Oblate at the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur. I currently serve as an associate pastor with my husband at Cambria Vineyard Church in California. My email is ddbrill@gmail ."


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