A discussion of locutions came up at our prayer group recently. This is a topic I rarely discuss with anyone except a couple of priests I truly trust and to whom I go running for help in determining authenticity, and, of course, Sr. Maria. I do not remember whether the discussion developed as an outgrowth of something I had said or something that Fr. Kevin had said at the monthly contemplative prayer group meeting in Campbell. In any event, our entire evening discussion between our prayers that began the meeting and our prayers that ended it focused on locutions, mainly mine, and I shared far more deeply than ever in the past, including even with Sr. Maria.
I have actually experienced less than a dozen locutions. However, each remains seared into my memory because of the element of surprise and the message, almost always something I have not wanted to hear or do. (Mostly “doing” has been associated with these locutions).
Getting Sr. Maria’s insights on my more unusual and intimate experiences made the discussion valuable. I assumed that it was okay with God if I were to share with others who love Him the kinds of locutions that I occasionally get. (I am pretty certain that if it were not okay, I would soon find out.)
From my blogging and occasional mention of my experiences to others, I have learned that people rarely accept locutions, let alone understand them or receive them. For that reason, I am grateful for the people in my prayer group and the people who read this blog.
From our discussion at prayer group, I gained an understanding of the rarity of locutions (and both respect and gratitude for my experiences). It has taken a considerable amount of time for me to understand why and how others react to my talk of locutions and really to know that they are a rare gift. For me, everything in my conversion came along topsy-turvy. I did not run begging to God for help at any time before conversion because I was a chronically happy atheist. My world did not shatter, and God did not lift me from among the shards. My world was a place of joy. God simply one day entered it. Definitively and vocally. Because I did not come to God through the church but rather to the church through God, contemplative prayer, which was my starting point for believing, is to this day much easier for me than the formulaic prayers that most Catholics have known by heart since childhood. I am still trying to learn some of the more beautiful ones and have given up on ever knowing all those that cradle Catholics know. (For that matter, I still have trouble with the mysteries part of the rosary and need a cheat sheet or someone to prompt me.) Talking to God, on the other hand, comes easy, and listening to and hearing God comes even easier.
I know I am making judgments based on a very backward “journey” from communication and contemplation into formal ritual. Nonetheless, my intuition rightly (or wrongly) tells me that I should not be unique among my peers. I know I share experiences common to a group of people spread around the universe and most closely with my dear Sufi friend, Omar the poet. In fact, there is an Arabic word used by the Sufis, the mystical side of Islam, for what I experience: zikr. I just have to wonder, it being my nature to wonder, if there would not be many more people who receive locutions if they truly believed that God wants to communicate with His people. Just as most people find that a difficult thing to believe, I find the opposite difficult to believe, not only based upon my experience but also upon what seems to me to be logic. Why would God make people and then go silent?
Doah, my rather severely retarded adult son, clearly hears locutions. For many years now, he has said to me “God told me” this or that. I used to tell him, “that’s nice, sweetheart,” and change the topic. Now I listen when he prefaces a comment with these words.