At one time when I was completing a retreat with 5 others, we gathered together to share our retreat experience. The director/guide gave us a “talking stick” as our aid in sharing. The process that was used was that we were to be guided by her three questions, and the stick was given to the person in the group who was to speak in response to the question, share his/her retreat while the others listened and prayed for the speaker as the stick was passed around the circle. So the guide asked her first question: “How did you experience God on this retreat?” We all took our turns holding the stick while we responded - as it moved quite quickly around the circle.
She then asked the second question: “How did you experience God on this retreat?” Surprised, we again responded with each one holding the “talking stick” while sharing the details of our retreat, but this time passing it a little slower than the first time around. Besides, our responses were different, deeper and more intimate.
Then the third question was asked: (yes, you’re right!!) The question was: “How did you experience God on this retreat?” This time the “talking stick” barely moved as it was passed around the circle. Our responses were very deep – poignant – intimate – sacred secrets were shared – gentle tears were glistening on our cheeks – This was the most powerful of the sharings. I remember this as if it happened yesterday!
Today, we have Jesus having a tailgate gathering for the guys who coped with his loss and the trauma of Jerusalem by heading off to do with what they felt comfortable, secure, and successful in doing – fishing!!! You see, over the months, they have felt like “fish out of water”! Now Jesus invites them to come back – break bread – eat – and remember – celebrate – and believe!
Peter is all set up to be forgiven – he desires to be reconciled. However, it has already been done – he’s already forgiven. So Jesus offers him the talking stick – Do you love me? First time around. Do you really love me? Second time around. Will you let me love you? Third time around – deeper-intimate-sacred sharing with gentle tears glistening on their cheeks!! Now go to offer the “talking stick” of healing, truthing, and faithing beyond your boat! Beyond these shores!
Let us pray this week to be open to the graces of these powerful post-resurrection stories. What questions is God asking you as you are offered the “talking stick”? What are you aware of in your responses? Are you willing to share at the deep level of the sacred?
“Jesus’ unusual questions can lead us closer to his transforming spirit and can transform us, free us, and heal us. The questions may seem strange, dated, or even irrelevant at first, but returning to them, they come alive, melt our hearts, open our spirits, and enlighten our minds. They do not harangue; rather they invite. They do not challenge; rather, they summon. They do not condemn; rather, they welcome us to the truth. If we sit with his questions, and don’t rush to assert our own answers, we will receive the gift of wisdom.” (From: The Questions of Jesus by John Dear, sj)