Discernment: day 2

Today’s challenge for me is the five minute discourse on the definition discernment. Google defines it as : the ability to judge well or, in Christian contexts, perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding. Merriam Webster posits discernment as: the quality of  being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure or an act of perceiving; the ability to see and understand people, things, and situations clearly and intelligently.

All of these are distinctly clear in a very vague way. 🙂 To discern seems to be to mete out an intelligent understanding when the way is unclear. If to discern is simply to judge well, there is no guess work, logic would define the recourse and discernment would simply be an exercise in logic. But I am a Christian, I believe that God is part of what I do and who I am and where I am to go. Therefore, it makes some sense that there is a mystical, mysterious quality to this action.

Perception in the absence of judgement with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding seems a daunting piece of work. Perception is my reality. The absence of judgment is difficult at best because to be objective, to not subjectively interact with that which is before me takes a restraint that comes from great discipline. So this first part of the definition, to use my understanding of reality without injecting my subjective awareness is what might only be attained through meditation, through non-anxious discourse, through a meta analysis that is atypical of our daily lives. Google goes on: with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding. This is the part where the real work comes. This definition means a listening for, a becoming aware of an answer perhaps not truly sought, a path not previously considered and a demeanor creatively offered by the lack of subjective perception.


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