“Our hearts are restless Lord until they rest in you…” This compelling quote by St. Augustine points to the human reality that there is a fundamental uneasiness within every heart as we yearn for God. This meeting invites members to reflect upon the ultimate restlessness that every human being possesses in their yearning for God. As we enter the Broken and Beloved section in Caminos, it is helpful to first explore the reality of our longings.
The meeting begins with an excerpt from Ronald Rolheiser’s The Holy Longing then moves to an Ignatian Contemplation of the Scripture story of the woman at the well. Try leading this Ignatian Comtemplation in your own words but if you would like further examples of how this can be done, see meetings 1:6 and 1:10.
- Instrumental music
Ask for the grace to name and foster awareness of our profound longing for God.
What was something that you really wanted this last week? How did you respond to this desire?
Begin by having a member of the group read the following passage aloud:
“There is within us a fundamental dis-ease, an unquenchable fire that renders us incapable, in this life, of ever coming to full peace. This desire lies at the center of our lives, in the marrow of our bones, and in the deep recesses of the soul. We are not easeful human beings who occasionally get restless, serene persons who once in a while are obsessed by desire. The reverse is true. We are driven persons, forever obsessed, congenitally dis-eased, living lives, as Thoreau once suggested, of quiet desperation, only occasionally experiencing peace. Desire is the straw that stirs the drink.
Whatever the expression, everyone is ultimately is talking about the same thing- an unquenchable fire, a restlessness, a longing, a disquiet, a hunger, a loneliness, a gnawing nostalgia, a wildness that cannot be tamed, a congenital all embracing ache that lies at the center of human experience and is the ultimate force that drives everything else. This dis-ease is universal. Desire gives no exemptions. And what shapes our actions is basically what shapes our desire. Desire makes us act and when we act what we do will either lead to greater integration or disintegration within our personalities, minds, and bodies — and to the strengthening or deterioration, of our relationship to God, others, and the cosmic world. The habits and disciplines we use to shape our desire form the basis for a spirituality, regardless of whether these have an explicit religious dimension to them or even whether they are consciously expressed at all. Spirituality concerns what we do with desire. It takes root in the eros inside of us and it is all about how we shape and discipline that eros. John of the Cross, the great Spanish mystic, begins this famous treatment for the soul’s journey with the words: “One dark night, fired by love’s urgent longings.” For him, it is urgent longings, eros, that are the starting point of the spiritual life and, in his view, spirituality, essentially defined, is how we handle that eros.”
-Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing 1999
Invite members to share on what stands out to them from this reading. Do the themes expressed feel familiar or foreign? When you feel ready to move on, invite them into this Ignatian Contemplation on the Scripture passage of the woman at the well:
“I invite you to find a comfortable position in your chair- with both feet on the ground and palms resting open on your lap- these two postures indicating a rootedness on the holy ground below us and receptivity to God’s abundant gifts surrounding us. I invite you to take a couple of breathes, slowly, inhale, and exhale. With each exhale, allow your body to fall more deeply into your chair and allow any tension to be released with each breath. Keep breathing and recognize the rising and falling of your body. Notice God’s very life present in the stillness of your body.
I will read the following passage. Listen to the words and pay attention to any images that emerge. I invite you to imagine yourself as part of the scene. Pay attention to who you are in the scene- the woman, Jesus, or a bystander. Try to imagine the details in your mind’s eye. What are your feelings and reactions? How are you interacting in the scene?
“[Jesus] came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (The woman) said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back. “The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Anointed; when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.”
You may considering reading through the Scripture a second time or ask the group specific questions to help them imagine the scene.
After reading through a second time, invite members to reflect on these questions:
In reflecting on your prayer, what is remaining with you from this scene? In what ways can you identify with the thirsting woman? (pause for 2 minutes) For what do you most thirst for? What are you most longing for now? As you name this desire, listen to see if there is an even deeper desire below this one. Ask God to shed light on these deep yearnings of your heart. Listen. (pause for 2 minutes)….When you are ready, I invite you to open your eyes and to become present back to the group.
- What is most present with you after the contemplation?
- Is there an area that stands out that would like to explore more fully?
- What is your experience of longing in your life? How do you find yourself directing this longing?
- If you could sit with Jesus at the well, what would you want to say to Him?
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or commonalities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
Pay attention to how your desires and longings play out in your life this week.
“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” ~ Pedro Arrupe, SJ
“Our vocation calls us to live this spirituality, which opens and disposes us to whatever God wishes in each concrete situation of our daily life.” (CLC-General Principles #5)
“I will enter upon the contemplation…always intent on seeking what I desire.” (Spiritual Exercises )
“O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you.” Psalm 63:1
“As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My being thirsts for God, the living God. When can I go and see the face of God?” Psalm 42:2-3