The Gentle Art of Spiritual Discernment

Excerpt from The Gentle Art of Spiritual Discernment – A guide to Discovering your Personal Path, by Pierre Pradervand

We live in a paradoxical culture. On the one hand, never before in history have people worked so little to earn their  living. One only has to read the unbelievable descriptions of working conditions in factories in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to realize how privileged we are. And yet there has never been a time in history when so many people complain that “I just don’t have the time to do what I want or need to do” or “I’m always on the run” and similar statements. The explanation is very simple: there has never been a period in the existence of our societies when people had so many things and cultural or other opportunities (travel, etc.) to consume. And it is not improving, by any means, despite the pandemic. As a result, many people have great difficulty establishing clear priorities.

Because for most people, it’s a question of priorities. If you really wish to make spirituality one of the fundamental priorities of your life, you will sooner or later have to cut the time you spend on social networks, television, the Internet, and leisure activities. There are, of course, certain categories of people whose hours are crammed with often conflicting priorities. I am thinking of single working mothers working close to full-time, raising children, and doing all the household tasks. But even for such categories of people there exists what I call unconventional spirituality, that is, finding a kind of practice you can do as you work. 

One luminous example is Brother Lawrence already mentioned earlier on. He acquired long ago an international and especially interconfessional reputation. Lawrence transformed his kitchen into a place where he had nonstop conversations with God. His radiant spirituality turned him into a confessor for many sometimes renowned people, and he even became a friend of the great Fénélon, to whom the king entrusted his son’s education. Not one word of theology in Lawrence’s message but simply the felt Presence he radiated all around himself. Whether you are a cashier, salesperson, or bus driver, you too can practice this kind of spirituality.