So many voices fill the sound waves, and all seem to be clamoring to be heard. But I am listening for the voice that is meant for me, that will give me nourishment and direction, the voice that is directed to me…meant for my ears. When I set out to Listen Carefully last week, I had no trouble hearing sounds, noises, bird calls, traffic, airplanes… but I found that in my intention to Listen, I wanted to hear what the Word is for me today. Too often the proliferation of noise around me devolves into an unclear murmuration of indistinguishable sounds, like the teacher, Miss Othmar, in the Charlie Brown cartoons. So my prayer became the boy Samuel’s: “Speak, O Holy One, I am listening. (And make it clear!)”
What I discovered as I paid attention was that when there was a particular Word for me, I had an almost whole body response when I heard it– a heart-knowing, a breath intake, a click—something that shimmered or caught my attention. It came in several modalities over the days I was intentionally Listening. There was a letter from a pastor to the Pope in anticipation of his American visit that brought me joy and challenge. An address from a theologian of great wisdom and passion for justice for women gave me hope and encouragement. I wandered thought the family room where I heard the strains of Allison Krause singing with Yo-Yo Ma, “‘Tis gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free, ’tis a gift to come down where you ought to be…” And then as a surprise from far away, a Youtube clip of someone I had known in a former life, whose road diverged from mine over thirty years ago, was offering peace, joy and welcome to those who longed to know the Holy more nearly and dearly in a winsome and winning way; I was surprised and blessed.
Each time a “voice” addressed to me distinguished itself from the pack, I had resonance in my entire being, that this was a Word for me that brought Life, than affirmed Love and that challenged my intention to be more of what I am created to be. So when I read from the book of Romans later in the week that “The Word is very near you, on your lips and in your heart,” I knew that what i had heard in my Listening was striking a chord with what the Spirit has already put in my being, and that my listening needed to be inward as well as attuned to the Word that come from outside. What I am invited to do is to pay attention with an open heart.
The practice to which I need to be faithful is whatever makes it possible and probable that I will hear the Word I need to hear, over and over again. Rumi says: A voice comes to your soul saying, Lift your foot, cross over, move into the emptiness of question, answer and question. And so the journey of Spirit goes with my whole Self at attention for the Word for this day, the next and next.
Personal photo taken of Judy Chicago’s “Song of Miriam” in Santa Fe, New Mexico.