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Other books by Vinita Hampton Wright

Nonfiction

The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life A Catalogue of Angels: The Heavenly, the Fallen, and the Holy Ones Among Us The St. Thérèse of Lisieux Prayer Book Simple Acts of Moving Forward: 60 Suggestions for Getting Unstuck Fiction

Grace at Bender Springs Velma Still Cooks in Leeway The Winter Seeking Dwelling Places

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Days of

Deepening Friendship For the Woman Who Wants Authentic Life with God

Vinita Hampton Wright

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© 2009 Vinita Hampton Wright All rights reserved Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1993 and 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations without chapter and verse reference are not direct quotes but paraphrases by the author. Cover design by Kathryn Seckman Kirsch Interior design by Maggie Hong Author photo by Jim Wright Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Wright, Vinita Hampton, 1958– Days of deepening friendship : for the woman who wants authentic life with God / Vinita Hampton Wright. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. ). ISBN-13: 978-0-8294-2811-7 ISBN-10: 0-8294-2811-9 1. Catholic women—Religious life. 2. Spiritual life--Catholic Church. 3. Friendship—Religious aspects—Catholic Church. I. Title. BX2353.W75 2009 248.8’43—dc22  2008039971 Printed in the United States of America 08 09 10 11 12 Versa 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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For every woman whose hunger for love refuses to die

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Contents

What can this book do for you? Why friendship, and why now?

1 6

part one  Beginning

1

What has awakened your spiritual desire?

16

2

How have you managed your life so far?

20

4

Where have you come from?

32

3 5

What do you expect from this encounter? Who, and what, comes with you?

26 39

part two  Hesitation

6

How do you approach God of the universe?

8

Why is it hard to come to God?

68

What would it take to say yes to love?

81

7

9

10

What do you bring to this friendship?

What happens if you fall apart?

52

58

75

vii

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viii   Contents

part three  Awareness

11

12

What is your history with God?

How can Jesus help your God-awareness?

88 94

13

How do you live in the space you’re given?

100

15

What are your harmful attachments?

118

14

How will you react to the realities of time?

109

part four  Resistance

16

What is holding you back?

126

What does it mean to be converted?

139

How will forgiveness change you?

153

17

Are you ready to be honest?

19

How do you get in your own way?

18 20

132

146

part five  Conversation

21

What has prayer been for you?

162

22

How do you bring your whole self to prayer?

168

24

Is prayer a request or a response?

182

23 25

Where is the Holy Spirit in this conversation? What does it mean to pray with others?

175

189

part six  Attention

26

How do you truly wake up?

198

27

How do spiritual traditions aid attentiveness?

204

29

What brings you desolation?

216

28 30

What is significant about God as parent? 30 What brings you consolation?

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209 223

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Contents   ix

part seven  Engagement

31

32

33

34 35

Why are your gifts important?

232

How does the Holy Spirit engage with you?

249

How do joy and gratitude nourish your friendship?

263

What can Jesus teach you about engagement?

How do you choose a way and follow it?

241

258

part eight  Love

36

How does listening express love?

274

37

Why does your wisdom matter?

280

39

How do you nurture God?

294

38 40

What difference does imagination make?

288

Why is passion important?

300

How to use this book with small groups

309

Notes

313

Acknowledgments About the Author

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311

317

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ch a p t er 17

Are you ready to be honest? O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. Psalm 139:1–4

W

e’ve heard about John the Baptist, a wild kind of prophet who lived in the wilderness of Palestine. John ate locusts

and wild honey and wore a camel’s hair shirt. He told good people they needed to repent, to prepare them for the arrival

of his cousin Jesus from Nazareth. He also told King Herod he needed to repent, since his illegal wife was already married to

his brother. That’s why the wife schemed with her daughter to 132

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T oo r d e r , c a l l 8 0 0 6 2 1 1 0 0 8o r v i s i t w w w . l o y o l a p r e s s . c o m/ d e e p e n i n g f r i e n d s h i p


134   Resistance

your soul is sending you signals that something is wrong but even good friends tell you not to worry so much and to give

yourself a break, you will understand that something bigger is at

stake. Spiritual awareness brings with it choices that sometimes only you will know about—those interior decisions that truly shape who you are.

Keep in mind that, not only do we as individuals resist move-

ment toward God, but the whole of human society does as well. Rather than deal with wrongdoing, let’s cover it up. Rather than

ask the hard questions, let’s hire better spin doctors. Rather than

tell people what they don’t want to know, tell them that everything’s fine. Rather than demand that people change in order to

heal and repair, tell them they’re okay—in fact, they’re wonderful and shouldn’t let anything bother them, or they should take

a pill so that things don’t bother them so much. This social pressure to gloss over sin and its effects makes it difficult for a person to tell the truth even in private.

John the Baptist was not the first prophet to tell people the

bad news they desperately needed to hear. Open the writings of

any Old Testament prophet, such as Jeremiah or Ezekiel, and prepare to be shocked at the severity of their message. Don’t

be surprised at the reactions they received—derision, dismissal,

persecution, imprisonment. Centuries later, Jesus lamented over

Jerusalem as the city that killed its prophets. He could have been gazing over any American city today, or any human establishment anywhere.

What does it cost you to tell the truth? Does your marriage

limp along while both of you keep on doing the same old things

in the same ineffective ways? If you told the truth, there would

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T oo r d e r , c a l l 8 0 0 6 2 1 1 0 0 8o r v i s i t w w w . l o y o l a p r e s s . c o m/ d e e p e n i n g f r i e n d s h i p


136   Resistance

The Baptist is waiting for you, too. He wants to look into

your eyes and say, “Things aren’t going so well, are they?” You will find no condemnation in that face; he is deeply sad that

you’re in trouble. He’s glad, though, to see your honesty come forth. He knows that healing will follow.

I waited a long time and traveled many miles, just to be told what I dreaded to hear: You were wrong. Darkness lives in you. Your wound is ghastly. After that, I sat by a river for days. The heat shimmered down, and the insects sang, and my tears dried up. Then I got really mad— at the waste, I mean, at how long it took me to make the trip and see the truth and follow it out of that valley. The first thing I had to do was buy new shoes.

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T oo r d e r , c a l l 8 0 0 6 2 1 1 0 0 8o r v i s i t w w w . l o y o l a p r e s s . c o m/ d e e p e n i n g f r i e n d s h i p


138   Resistance

Why do you think people tried to shush the blind man? Have

others ever tried to silence your cries for help? If so, what did they do, and what do you think their motives were?

If Jesus were to ask you, “What do you want me to do for you,” what would you say?

Reflect on how it feels to you to acknowledge that all is not well. Talk with God about your reaction.

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I

$13.95 U.S.

Be your true self—and get ready for a dynamic friendship with the Divine.

Using Scripture, meditations, stories, and written exercises, Days of Deepening Friendship encourages women to radically rethink their approach to friendship with God and to explore the deeper regions of this very special relationship. Throughout forty brief chapters, author and spirituality-workshop leader Vinita Hampton Wright taps the proven wisdom of Ignatian spirituality by employing prayer, imagination, action, and reflection, making the book an ideal spiritual workshop for women. Days of Deepening Friendship will free any woman to fling wide open the door to the Divine and become friends with the God who has loved her all along for who she really is.

V H W leads workshops around the country on the creative-spiritual process. She is the author of many books, including Simple Acts of Moving Forward, The Soul Tells a Story, The St. Thérèse of Lisieux Prayer Book, and the novel Dwelling Places. She and her husband, Jim, live in Chicago.

ISBN-10: 0-8294-2811-9 ISBN-13: 978-0-8294-2811-7

Days of Deepening Friendship

t’s time for women of faith to quit apologizing—for who they are or who they’ve been, for what they feel and know, and for their powerful ability to connect with spiritual reality. When a woman is free to be herself and to express to God—without fear—her loves, dreams, pains, and passions, she can embark upon a friendship that is stunning in its wisdom and delightful in its daily unfolding.

W

Christianity/Inspiration

Days of

Deepening Friendship For the Woman Who Wants Authentic Life with God

V H W


Days of Deepening Friendship