The Tenderness of the Soul’s Longing

I have returned from leading a group retreat in Assisi. As I reflect on my own learnings and experiences, as well as what others tell me about theirs, the following become clear.

  • We make pilgrimages for highly personal reasons.
  • While there, we may see the same things, but in different ways.
  • In fact, we may see entirely different things.
  • We make unique meanings; see unique connections.
  • We come away with highly personal learnings, even revelations.

So, what is it that we all share? I think it is the longing. The exact object of that longing, the process of seeking and finding, and even the depth of desire, may all be different. But, we all have the desire.

We may be separated in our particulars, but we are united in our universal seeking…in and through the intention, the openness and the quality of focus.

In, and from, this commonality, is born a sense of hope, support, perhaps even joy. And, a quality of tenderness toward others on the journey, as we know the courage and vulnerability that seeking requires.

 If you are seeking,

Speak truthfully to yourself of your desire.

And, while being truthful,


Also be tender.

Cradle your longing,

Lest you judge yourself, in haste,

Unworthy of its satisfaction.

For, we can be quick to shame,

To blink and disavow,

To deny our exquisite truth,

When the depth of its

Beautiful blue desire

Would seem to swallow us.

Yet, it knows what we do not:

We can breathe


About Soul Intention

"Spirituality is, ultimately, about what we do with...desire. What we do with our longings, both in terms of handling the pain and the hope they bring us, that is our spirituality." from The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser. Paraphrasing what Gerald May has said, in his book Will and Spirit, spirituality is our experience and interpretation of our relationship with the Sacred. The intent of this blog is to explore for myself, and to invite others to explore with me, just what is it we do with our desire? What is our spirituality? Mine has been shaped by many my formative years, by the Roman Catholic church. In the last decade, by the 12 steps. Most recently, by the Episcopal Church. And, always, always, by the sense that Nature helped to reveal the Great Mystery, of which we are all a part. So, my spirituality includes concrete practices, like the Steps, as well as probing more philosophical matters. I was certified, in January 2011, as a Spiritual Director by the Haden Institute. During those 21 months of study, which included a broad range of topics from Celtic Spirituality, to the Christian Mystics, to Jungian Depth psychology, I was given the space and time to ponder my own spiritual journey, hear about others' paths, and benefit from participation in an intentional community. My hope is that this blog can engender a similar conversation. Peace, Paul
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