I am continually surprised by the hunger I see in young adults for people to journey with them. I witnessed this desire for years now watching the spiritual direction slots fill up at Charis Retreats. Many of the young adults desired to continue meeting after the retreat.
At the recent Spiritual Director’s International Conference I attended, I realized this hunger is not unique to the young adults who are Catholic, but all faith traditions are seeing this hunger. The seven of us who made up the New Contemplative group spoke about this very topic multiple times, and I wrote about our conversations recently on dotMagis.
No matter what ministry we were part of and no matter what our faith tradition, we agreed on the same basic hunger we saw in people in their 20s and 30s. There is a deep hunger in young adults for authentic people to journey with them. Young adults are seeking to explore the deeper questions of life, and they are looking for mentors, teachers, and spiritual directors who can help create space to allow them to ask tough questions.
I am still grappling with what this realization means for me in ministry and in life. There are days I feel overwhelmed with the hunger I see in my peers for people to simply be present to them. I am one person, and I cannot walk with everyone I meet.
I invite all of us to look around and be mindful of the people in their 20s and 30s that are in our lives. Are any of them seeking companionship from a mentor, a spiritual director, a teacher? Is there a way we can walk with them and simply be present to them as a holy listener?
This is our future. This is our present. It matters more that we are present to people in their 20s and 30s and share our authentic faith than it does to teach them doctrine. It matters more to simply listen to them and be present to their questions, their struggles, their hopes, and their dreams. In these holy conversations, we can gently point them towards Christ both by our act of holy listening, and by our questions that invite them to connect their faith and daily life.
Companionship is an opportunity for evangelization, and I beg all of us to wake up to the possibilities of journeying with the person in front of us.