“Through Journey Conversations we are learning to quiet ourselves through centering practice and lectio divina. We are reflecting on our own stories and speaking the truth of them. We are discovering how to listen deeply to wisdom literature and to one another. We are finding ways to walk with others and respond compassionately. We are being shaped to engage people of all backgrounds with deeper understanding and compassion for the sake of the world.”
Hundreds of participants have taken part in Journey Conversations in various settings throughout the United States and Canada. In our evaluation findings to date, participants report that they place a great value on the contemplative practice of silence and a scheduled time and place to reflect; they no longer believe that a mature faith requires having everything figured out; they have learned a new way of being present to others; and have experienced a different way of being together in relationship—a spiritual fellowship—through these groups.
The following video produced by Ufra Mir, a peace-education trainer and the founding executive director of Paigaam: A Message for Peace, Inc., features students, faculty, and staff who participated in the Journey Conversation Project at Luther College.
The following excerpts represent the key themes conveyed by Project participants:
How important it is to slow down and take time for silence. In the past, I often knew this in the back of my head but never did it. Now, I want to incorporate these rhythms in my life to help me center myself.
I used to think I was the only one who didn’t have it all figured out or had questions but I have discovered that I have many of the same doubts and thoughts as others. I have also become more confident with speaking about faith and religion.
Trying to bring my spiritual thoughts and approaches to discussing spirituality to more of my interactions. Even if conversations and or actions are not directly aimed at a “spiritual” topic, the skills, care, compassionate questions, and calmness can still be used in many interactions.
Being able to articulate some of my current thoughts, struggles, beliefs, questions, etc. to others out loud. This has helped me personally identify more about my own journey. Also, hearing and reflecting upon other’s stories has allowed me to make connections with my group members in a way I normally wouldn’t be able to and identify some of the similarities and differences in our journeys.
Participants also report that what they have learned and experienced in a journey conversation is bearing fruit outside of the group setting by cultivating a peaceful listening presence that they try to bring into their activities and relationships with friends, co-workers, and family members.
In closing surveys, participants also report an increase in their:
- Understanding of the spiritual journeys of others in the group.
- Understanding of their own spiritual journey.
- Ability to tell the story of their own spiritual journey.
- Ability to ask others questions about their spiritual journey.
- Ability to dialogue with others about faith.
- Willingness to examine attitudes and beliefs about faith traditions.
- Confidence in participating in interfaith dialogue.
- Confidence in serving as a leader in religiously pluralistic contexts.
- Appreciation of contemplative practices.
- Appreciation of insights that can be gained from wisdom literature.