Session Eight – Chapters Twelve and Thirteen
Session Eight – Chapters Twelve and Thirteen
This session explores the themes and ideas of chapters twelve and thirteen.
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Chapter Twelve 

Notice what happens for you as you read the first page of Chapter 12. Can you see in your own life how God invites you to look to him for fulfilment in relationship, and yet paradoxically to give yourself to other people as well?

How does this “balance” look in your own life? Think of a time when you feel you have touched on this balance. 

Julian of Norwich and Teresa of Avila both emphasised that God alone is enough for us. As you hear those words notice what happens in your own heart. You may like to read more of these mystics, or others who knew God so deeply, and thus invite us to that deep intimacy too. 

Read the story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22. Then take some time alone to identify with this man meeting the eyes of Jesus. As you sit with Jesus, imagine, as I have, what Jesus might say to you. What is the one thing Jesus might show you that you need to surrender, the one thing that may be holding you back from fulness of life? Take some time with this.

Share with others only if it is helpful to do so, or spend time having a conversation with God about it. 

The prayer of Ignatius is a surrendering to God: Take Lord and receive… Pray it slowly together as a group and notice what you may need to come back to, in a time with God. 

Take time to be with the final poem of the chapter, imagining God having pitched his royal tent inside you, so we can lean our soul on his heart. 

Chapter 13 – The Deeper Desire 

Three metaphors for the spiritual journey are the hero’s journey, the journey of suffering, and the way of the lover.

Share which of these three you identify with. 

Augustine’s most famous quote is: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O God.”

Share a time when you experienced this to be true. 

What is it like for you to reflect on the idea of the desire beneath the desire. What is it that you most deeply long for? Can you stay with it as Janet Ruffing suggests, and notice whether a part of you tells you not to be foolish. Sometimes you may need someone else to name the desire beneath the desire as we get so caught up in the more superficial one.  

Can you resonate with the idea that ultimately it is God who is our deepest desire?

What happens for you when you imagine God as the Divine Beloved? 

As you read Henri Nouwen’s words about the pain of emptiness, of unrequited love (page 86) what happens for you? Have you also had experiences of this emptiness and longing? 

Simone Weil and John Eldridge (pages 86-87) both speak of lying to ourselves about our desire, as a way of dealing with the longing and emptiness.

Take some time to be with their words and notice your own resonance. 

The sea lion story, Rilke’s poem and Son of Solomon use the desert as a metaphor for the place of longing.

In what ways have you experienced “deserts” in your life? How have you learned from them? How have you found God in them?