Practice of Encounter

The Practice of Encounter
Taken from
who adapted it from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, “An Altar in the World.”

The practice of encounter is about loving our neighbor as ourself, about coming face to face with “the Other” and realizing it is one of the faces of God.

When this spiritual practice might be used:
Anytime — all the time. A good place to start is with someone who is doing one of the mundane things we normally do not think about – the clerk at the check-out counter, the ticket taker at the movies, the signal person on a road crew. What happens when we really notice that person and view him or her as a manifestation of the Divine?

First we must notice the Other. We must allow ourselves to see those around us, not as objects,

nor as subjects to be judged, but as reflections of God. Make direct eye contact and pause for just a moment. Look into the eyes of the Other with curiosity about their journey, their story (without as Barbara Brown Taylor cautions, making them a part of your story). Acknowledge their humanity, their suffering, their joy; the piece of God’s dream that they hold. Then we must offer hospitality. When we welcome the stranger, we welcome God. The God who made others different from us is revealed in them as well as in us. Consider how we welcome the Other in the course of our everyday encounters.

Do we encounter the Other with love or enmity?

Do we see Christ looking back at us from many different faces?

Barbara Brown Taylor tells us that “when we do not seek Christ in one another, Christ is who we do not find.”

Be the manifestation of Christ for those who encounter us. We are mirrors for each other. Be aware of what you are reflecting to the world.


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