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How would I describe discernment…How would I describe discernment? Discernment, on the most basic level is, about differentiating my will versus God’s will. We try to do that within ourselves and also in our community.
Well, my name is JT Dorr-Bremme. I use he/him pronouns. I live in State College, Pennsylvania. And I attend Upper Susquehanna Quarterly meeting and Three Rivers meeting online. The reason Quakers talk about discernment so much is because we don’t have the clergy or the Creed or the book that we can refer to and say, Is this God’s will or not? So we have to figure it out for ourselves. And I think that it’s actually a really powerful practice if it’s done right, because we can find ourselves, sometimes suddenly or surprisingly, in unity about what is the right path forward. And it feels really good when that happens.
The process, I guess, varies depending on what the community wants or is used to or is willing to try. I guess let’s say, let’s say that we’re discerning together, and I’m going to help you make a decision. We sit in silence for a while. You get some information out of that and then share it with me, right? To say “here’s the choice I’m trying to make. Here’s what led up to it. Here’s how I feel about some of it, or some concerns that I have. Here’s some things that I might want to happen or ways that I want to feel when I’m done.”
And I think for me, for my role, it would be a lot of listening to hear all of that and take it in and then to reflect some of it back. And I think that that’s how we should attend to each other, because that’s how I think we should be attending to the divine, that it will speak.
You know, if heard the still small voice, right, that we all carry around that voice of God inside us, we can amplify that voice in each other and we can identify it when we’re hearing it and that we can speak from it to each other.
It’s an incredible gift. It gives a person a sense of really being attended to and that what they say matters. And that’s an act of love, that giving of one’s self in terms of time and attention and saying I care about what you have to say and, I’m going to put my whole being into hearing what that is.
These days in our country, people talk about how we’re so divided. And I really believe that it’s that no one feels truly heard. There’s suffering on all sides. And that doesn’t justify any of the noxious behaviors that result from that. But I believe that those behaviors are the result of unmet needs. And one of those needs is to be valued, to be heard and respected. And it doesn’t require agreement, it doesn’t require identification. It just requires listening. Because when people are listened to, they will disclose themselves. And I believe that eventually they will understand why they’re in pain. And pain is something we all understand. If we could give that gift to each other, I really believe that we’d be better off.
- How would you describe discernment?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.