My last, longer version of discernment was “objectively opening to an awareness of a path that was unforeseen and is clear with the factor of making sense.” I’m going to edit it to say, “Objectively opening to an awareness of a clear path that was unforeseen and makes sense.” Perhaps unforeseen doesn’t need to be included. But it is because it seems to fit with the mystery of discernment for me. At least, discernment in faith, spiritual discernment. Discernment of a call, discernment of a relationship and what to do next, discernment of discovering what to preach and how to walk with people in their multi-faceted lives.
To me this is a faith based word. So while I can discover and parse out the ideas given through dictionaries and seek clarity on what this word means, it can be a noun—something that encompasses a process. It can be a verb, the action of seeking an end result. It can be a form of an adjective as in “The discernment of the Council…”. But I think the key to discernment involves the faith needed to enter into the mystery of seeking to discover something unbidden, perhaps gifted through the clarity or epiphany of the Spirit of God offering a solution not previously in one’s awareness.
The faith that it takes to enter into a discerning character is one that is also, I believe, part of the faith gifted us in baptism. Discernment means listening to those around us, praying, opening and discovering God’s Word in the Bible, through hymnody, and simply being still in the world—all parts of the world—and offering the opening to God to fill our silence with God’s will.
Maybe that’s the bottom line of discernment. To discern is to discover God’s will, that which previously had been hidden, and now might be possible through awareness and trust in God’s desire for us to move toward that which was revealed.
Is objectively too hard and fast for this definition? Is it possible to objectively encounter God? Can one, without subjectivity, open to God’s presence and will?
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