Guenther: women listeners

Guenther women as listeners

“Again and again I am struck by the number of women-of all ages, levels of education, and professional experience-who are drawn to some kind of listening ministry.” Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening, The Art of Spiritual Direction, p. 111.

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I immediately felt an aha moment when Guenther writes that women in general are often called to a “listening ministry.” This is where the introvert in me has felt called for so many years, perhaps since birth, and I have struggled because the role of deacons (to which I also hear a call) has been promoted as an active doing ministry out in the world, bringing the world to the church and the church to the world. And yet, can you not be bringing the world to the church one person as a time in pastoral care, sitting down and hearing the story of a person who comes to our weekly food pantry, listening as a spiritual director, being a facilitator of Mourner’s Path, a ministry to the grieving, a ministry to the dying, visiting the sick in the world? In fact, Guenther speaks about our finding our most receptive spiritual friends among those who have been made outcasts by our society, like the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well in John (4:5-42), those who live “at the economic, social or ecclesiastical edges. I don’t regularly get this afirmation from outside of me, but I feel that affirmation inside of me. I think I still too often care too much what the outside world thinks.

Guenther counsels us not to do spiritual direction at home. I know many others agree. She lived in New York City where I think this would be more difficult. However, as I have mobility issues, my home and particularly in my living room surrounded by windows has more often become the set aside sacred place to meet that has been working well, but I am careful about having someone else in the house with me as well as other ethical issues. I never meet someone I do not know for the first time at my home, but with few exceptions, I have known for years the people who come for direction.