One of the most integral aspects of spiritual maturity involves the ability to recognize that we are not the center of the universe. As common sense as this may appear, the reality is that we tend to declare our opinions and perspectives as infallible, and such a stance tends to close us off to our true potential in Christ. Of course, there will always be unchanging truths and key aspects of reality which remain objective and consistent, but we also must recognize that human interactions involve the mysterious intersection between people that moves into the complex realm of human interiority.
Human experience is not as simple as it may seem. While we connect with and are molded by objective truths and reality, each one of us is made up of a whole history of experiences and influences that go beyond the ability of words and concepts to explain. In our relationships with each other, we must constantly stand in wonder and awe before the mystery that is another human person. Such an outlook helps us to appreciate that the discovery of another person is a delicate process which takes time and trust.
The idea behind what St. John of the Cross calls detachment and what St. Ignatius refers to as indifference is not that we ignore our experiences in favor of a kind of cold, impersonal reason. The spiritual freedom that each author is trying to describe is a kind of looking past our limited experiences and our individual perspectives so that we can encounter and learn to see the other. We are open to the mystery of human communication and interaction when we learn to constantly hold before our attention that for as much as we know and understand, there is far more that we do not understand and do not see.
This teaches us to walk constantly in the mystery of human existence. Such a path of unknowing does not mean that we stop forming opinions or making decisions, but rather that we have the humility needed to respond to the unfolding of human activity. Holding before our gaze the mystery of interpersonal communication means that we learn to look past our thoughts, feelings, and desires and realize that there is more than what we are experiencing.
In time, such a perspective allows us to tap into and discover the calm, still voice of the Holy Spirit no matter what is going on in our interior life. When the storm clouds of desolation are forming, we have the freedom to look past them and to discover God’s presence. When we are exhilarated by personal victories, we learn to avoid the extremes of an inflated ego. Thus, in all things, we learn to discover God and to allow him to guide us.