by Sister Annie Loendorf, SCL
“How did the Rose
Ever open its heart
And give to the world
All its beauty?
It felt the ENCOURAGEMENT OF LIGHT!” (Persian Mystic Hafez)
Reflecting on my 57 years as an SCL, there is a continual grace that has been present in every ministry I’ve been engaged in that shows itself in a multitude of colors, shapes, sizes, places, experiences—moments not planned but truly spirit-filled surprises. This precious gift is being a listening presence; a Spiritual Life Companion! I found this description in Webster’s Dictionary: “to listen is to attentively hear a person speaking…it is to be all ears.” I describe it as an energy of my soul!
My years of ministry continually revealed this gift as over and over I found myself sitting in sacred circles or one-on-one as people spoke, cried, laughed, entrusted their story to me. Then 12 years ago I was invited to become an “Ambassador of Gratitude” for an organization. This would all happen via the telephone, which was a new and challenging experience for me. After my expression of gratitude, I was to be available to whatever they might chose to share. Have you heard a tear trickling down a face, a heart gasp when there were no words, silence breathing through a phone wire?
Then three years ago I was challenged anew to begin companioning a young man in a detention center in another state. We began by exchanging letters which then became monthly Zoom calls. I only see him through what I call the chain-link fence, “a fishing net window.” So, I only see all these little pieces of his face looking at me as I hear him voice his feelings, beliefs, thoughts to me from miles away. I only know that what I feel for me is that listening is a unique presence of providing a safe, holy sanctuary for another to be who she or he is in the moment in however it can be expressed.
I have been writing letters and creating cards since I was a little girl. I have come to believe that sitting in silence with the written word, holds it owns power of presence. In sharing and listening to deep stories, truths, wounds, wonderment, healing, aches, I am tuned in; all ears in the silence; holding the words with their unique sounds.
So, however and to whomever I share a presence of companioning, what I know is that it takes an energy of beingness, a holy listening, a grace beckoning me to go “inside” the word (spoken or written), tears, woundedness, aches, and awe as our bodies and hearts voice our souls into this ever-deepening expanding being “oned” (Julian of Norwich’s word).
I am honored and blessed continually to be a light encourager; to listen to another as they embrace their own light already burning within them; perhaps in need of a small attending/listening “spark” of rekindling!