The Golden Rules for Conversation in the FSE Cloud Community
The Golden Rules for Online Spiritual Conversation
1. Enjoy each other
To en-joy life with another person or group is an essential part of our humanity. Giving and receiving joy is a spiritual gift we can offer in all our Cloud Community relationships. And it feels great.
2. Be fully present – let distractions go
Attend fully to the present, without the distraction of multitasking, while you listen to the voices of the community. Close the door to interruptions, interior and exterior, and turn your mobile phone off.
3. Be open – presume nothing
Open yourself to what is being shared and put your presumptions aside. Our judging and evaluating mindset will usually be a distraction here. Open, attentive, non-judgmental listening comes first.
4. Hold each other with empathy
In sympathy I place myself beside the other. In empathy I forget myself and just accept and hold the other person’s feelings. Spiritual conversation is more about empathy than sympathy.
5. Listen quietly for true understanding
Listen quietly to understand the meaning, nuances and desires underneath another person’s words. Understanding does not require our agreement or belief. Just try to understand.
6. Show reverence in every response
Reverence sees the wonder and uniqueness of the other in a spiritual conversation. God sees the same person as precious – we can do no less in showing reverence in our responses.
7. Bring loving kindness to groups
In community groups there is no battle to be won, viewpoint to be sold, money to be made or ego to be strutted out. Loving kindness is an ancient sign of a divinity and humanity that cares.
8. Do not cite authorities – teach each other
Deal with everyone equally. Do not cite anyone as supporting your opinion or take sides in spiritual conversation. Rather, gently and respectfully, teach from your own graceful experiences.
9. Be free of attachment to your own opinion
In spiritual conversation, consider the viewpoints and experience of everyone without showing any attachment to your own opinion. Give your response with the greatest possible humility and sincerity.
10. Awaken self knowledge & love in each other
Spiritual conversations can awaken a thorough knowledge of oneself and a love of our Creator and Lord. Let us arouse both in each other and enlarge our vision of what could be.
11. Be generous in everything
The actions of giving and receiving lie at the heart of spiritual conversations – they are the ligaments of love. In conversation, and the action that follows, be generous in both giving and receiving.
12. Focus only on the grace desired
Conversations in this site are highly focussed on the graces we seek from God. So we need to be in personal relationship with God. If you get lost in spiritual conversation, come back to this foundation.
13. Open each other to God’s grace
It will be helpful to encourage each other in spiritual conversation, as far as possible, to open ourselves to God’s grace and action. This little self-surrender will be life transforming for one and all.
14. See God’s face in each other
Every person is created in the image of God and reflects the face of God. So everyone has equal status – power in spiritual conversation is flat. We always need to converse with awe and tenderness.
15. Sense the Spirit’s gentle touch in each other
Ignatius invites us to listen for the Spirit who touches the soul of the other gently, lightly, and sweetly, like a drop of water going into a sponge. We seek this fine sensitivity to the Spirit in conversation.
16. Be slow – grow organically
Fast is as much an enemy of spiritual conversation as top down hierarchal structures. Relationships and graces are seeds that grow organically, we know not the future but can nurture each other.
17. Be ready – Jesus speaks though others
The friendship Jesus offers is communal, one vine but many branches. Jesus will speak to you from the graces of others in spiritual conversations. Listen to each other with this expectation.
18. When stuck, ask the Spirit for help
If we ask, and we often forget, help from the Spirit, we will not only receive help but receive gifts in great abundance for our spiritual conversation. Call on this generosity at need and often.
19. Discern the way forward together
Interior felt movements of the Spirit can be found in prayer and conversation. These movements draw us in the direction of the good and better. This will guide direction in communal discernment.
20. Freely give what you have freely received
Jesus sent his disciples out on mission with the instruction to freely give what was freely received. Acting on these words will enrich our spiritual conversation beyond imaging.
Prayer for Online Listeners
Lord, open my ears, my whole being,
that I may become a listening presence
to those in the Cloud Community.
Let me enjoy the gift of our spiritual conversations,
always encouraging, always building up.
Give me the generosity to listen with openness,
the wisdom to understand what I am shown,
the strength to be changed by what I read,
the words that never judge,
the generous heart that shares practical experience,
the delight of a curious child.
Increase in me the grace to honour both movement
and waiting in the graces shared,
the acceptance that allows vulnerability to be written,
the prudence to know what to share,
and the self-surrender that treasures the good in others.
Ground in me the freedom that allows mystery,
the joy to celebrate new things found,
the readiness for laughter when it rises,
the reverence to listen with tender love,
the humility to serve where I can,
and the awe to hear you speaking through
the Cloud Community. Amen.
Prayer for Online Spiritual Conversation
Lord, help me to let go of my daily rush and distractions,
to slow down, to be a fully present to everyone
in the Cloud Community while I am online.
Give me the wisdom to listen quietly,
to sense the meanings, nuance and deep desires
of each person in the Cloud Community
in our spiritual conversations,
our group discussions,
and our sharing of practical experience.
Keep me considerate and kind with matters
that arise in groups and sincere in my opinion.
Help me to hold each person reverently,
their gifts and faith gently, and to enkindle in them
the love of our Creator and Lord.
May the gifts of your Spirit, the courage and wisdom,
the interior freedom, gentleness and peace,
flow through all our spiritual conversations.
Guide us in the right direction as newborn communities.
Thank you for the way you dwell in us as a community
in our sharing experience and exercise,
sent by you to help others, to freely give
what we have freely received from you. Amen.
Let no one seek to be considered a wit, or to affect elegance or prudence or eloquence, but look upon Christ, who made nothing at all of these things and chose to be humbled and despised by men for our sake rather than to be honoured and respected – Ignatius.
The Golden Rules above are based on The First Spiritual Exercises (FSE) guides for group face-to-face sacred listening and spiritual conversation. These in turn are based on the advice of St Ignatius Loyola. We aim for the same quality of communication in the FSE Cloud Community.
So this site is not about hard line fundamental evangelism, judgment of others, church politics, ‘correcting’ anyone, or putting down any spiritual tradition. It is simply about holding the conversations of FSE Givers and Receivers, and providing them with free FSE resources. The ‘golden rule’ of gospel teaching to ‘do to others as you would have them do to you’ sits pragmatically beneath our site’s Golden Rules.
Failure to follow the Golden Rules will result in loss of membership. If you meet a disrespectful, inappropriate or harmful conversation, contact us.
The FSE Cloud Community is carefully monitored to create a safe spiritual place for everyone. We mirror gospel-based relationships.
The Spirit of God flows through this site and all active in it. Act with this awareness and your presence will be a gift to everyone here.