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Discernment - The act or process of exhibiting keen insight and good judgment

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This article appeared in our June 2003 issue. The beginning of discernment as a conscious spiritual practice for me came 20 years ago, well before I was a full-time theologian, let alone a professor teaching a course called “Discernment” at New York’s General Theological Seminary. Nevertheless, the story stays fresh in my mind, a touchstone in my own path toward wholeness. Never having been to the Berkshires, I was thrilled when my friend Carol invited for an extended winter weekend with her friend Denise, who was already waiting for us in a cabin in the woods. During the long bus ride from New York City, Carol and I talked easily, sharing confidences and laughing a lot delighted with each other’s company and glad to be getting away from the city and our workday lives. What I didn't know was that Denise, who rented the cabin, had not invited me, did not know I was coming, and would scarcely conceal her resentment when I encroached on her carefully planned retreat with her friend Carol. To this day, I do not know precisely why Carol set things up that way. There was no quick fix for our …

Elisabeth Koenig is a professor of ascetical theology at New York’s General Theological Seminary.


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