SPIRIT MATTERS: How far can an encouraging word travel?

SPIRIT MATTERS: How far can an encouraging word travel?

How often do you go through life wondering what kind of energy you emit, or how others see you?

Of course, the one whose opinion matters the most is the Divine One, but hearing from others time to time about how we reflect goodness to others can help us in our journey through life.

It is that time of the year that a team from St. Michael the Archangel parish in Streator prepares for our annual We Are the Church retreat, which will be held this year in March.

Each week for 7 to 8 weeks we meet for prayer, a reading from Scripture, meditations and to preview talks for the weekend. (We also eat snacks, which some might say is their favorite part of the meeting.) Many who have been on the team both now and in the past have said after the retreat weekend how the weekly preparation for the meeting was like a retreat in itself.

Often, those of us on the team begin the weekly visits in January with a withered spirit. We have just come down from the holidays, which we all know can be exhausting, and harsh winter weather can leave us even more depleted.

I have often gone into the weekly meetings feeling like I have nothing to give, yet knowing putting myself out there for the team bonding will ultimately bear fruit. As team members, we support each other, share and listen to some of the burdens our friends on the team carry in their daily lives, without judgment.

Sometimes just sharing your troubles and knowing there is a group of people sincerely listening to you is enough to remove a good part of the load, or at least shift the momentum in a more positive direction.

A few weeks ago, for our meditation, we did what is called “An Encouraging Word.” At the end of a 20 to 25 minute reflection that included us imagining ourselves in the presence of Jesus, and him asking each of us “Who do you say that I am,” we went around the table and those who wished to share could say who Jesus is to them. For instance: Rock, Teacher, Friend, Guide, Life, Heart, Light and so on.

After sharing who Jesus is to us, we turned to our neighbor and shared the good things we see in that person, how they uniquely reflect and share the Light of Christ in their lives and what a difference they make in just being alive.

Could you imagine, actually being told by someone the light they see in you, the specific ways you manifest the Holy Spirit in the world?

Unfortunately, many of us out there can’t imagine that. Because no one ever tells us, much less expresses even a few words of appreciation for our being in their lives.

After the meditation is complete, the hearts of each team member are often lighter, and it is reflected on their face, and in their demeanor. One of the team members said after this meditation, something along the lines of ‘we need to do this every week.’

That is how hungry people are to know they matter.

Of course, we don’t need to overindulge, but, really, it is a common hunger in the human spirit to know that our lives matter, to know that we make a difference, to know that someone even notices us, much less cares….

I think of all those millions of people out in the world in despair right now, for whatever reason, who think their lives don’t matter and the world would be better without them, because nobody has ever communicated to them the difference they have made in their lives. Unfortunately, many of these people might be on the brink of taking their own lives.

Let’s make it a goal to begin noticing the good in other people – especially those who sometimes might rub us the wrong way.

And not only noticing the good, but telling them what we see.

They honestly might be shocked to hear those good words filling their ears, having hardly or never heard them before.

In a world where anger and hatred control the airwaves and social media, and certainly cause those who watch or listen to it regularly to despair, let each of us join in the simple revolutionary act of speaking kind words to one another.

Can you imagine what that might do?

Can you imagine?

Streator’s 25th WATCH Weekend, “Let Him In,” will be held Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 15 at St. Michael the Archangel School. Participants go home at the end of each evening. For more information, contact Joyce Kmetz at 815-672-5076 or Carleen Redd at 815-257-2352.

SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times’ readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.


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