I am practicing openness this Lent–opening myself to God’s presence and letting the angels feed me, as Ronald Rolheiser says. I have begun with the prayer “Open my ears, Lord.” I noticed first that hearing is not my primary sense organ. I rely much more on the eyes, so I have been surprise how often I have had to remind myself to LISTEN each day.
I am certainly not helped by the amount of noise that is around me no matter where I am in this city. Even in the still of the morning I can hear the hum of the freeway two blocks away, and the drone of helicopter and plane as they move over the air lanes toward the two airports with in reach. Often nature itself chimes in with gusty winds, dogs barking to protect their territory, even birds a-squabble in the trees that line my yard. My house has machines humming, doors opening and closing, and computers bursting with YouTube clips, yammering to be played.
The noise that is more insistent come from deep inside, the constant interior chatter of my monkey mind, full of primitive wisdom that is not longer useful, habitual emotional tracks without much basis in reality, and a hummingbird attention span that natters to be fed. So I am invited to LISTEN, an intention which takes time, space and practice.
In this week in which I have focused in listening, I have been mindful of the boy Samuel, who when hearing an intimation of the Holy One calling his name, responded, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” Along with that prayer, I also pray to discern among the madrigal threads that interweave in my brain and heart, “Which one is the voice of the Holy?” Barring an appearance from the Angel Gabriel, who does not seem to know my address, God speaks to me through other messengers.
I begin with sacred text…listening for the Word that shimmers, or rather rings a bell for me. I am loving the daily lectionary texts, this week from Deuteronomy and Hebrews, reminding me to remember and to rest, two spiritual practices that are not organic for me, but ones which deepen my awareness of the Holy. Once again John’s gospel gives me Jesus is a way that is inviting and compelling.
I hear Presence when I LISTEN to music in a whole-body way–the clarinet of Richard Stolzman, the chorales of the Orthodox monks—all inhabit my being with a sense of the sacred. Sometimes it is my own longing that is carried on the wail of Bonnie Raitt’s voice and guitar. But then, my heart can be grounded and consoled by a Bach cantata. What I hear opens me to the Holy One.
I keep being reminded to LISTEN to my own heart. The Spirit is in residence there, a gift of God to keep me from being alone, to energize me, to direct me into the next right step. How baffling it is to get so separated from myself so easily, yet how clearly the flow of the Spirit emerges when I turn my heart of LISTEN, to my own heartbeat, and with J. Philip Newell, to the heartbeat of God. It is here where I come to know which ones of the many griefs of the world are mine to notice, to attend to, to act toward healing. It is here that I discover the invitations that have my name on them, and which ones can be let go. It is here that I face the unhealed and unworthy practices in me that call for a turning away and an asking forgiveness.
in the welter of noise that is the world I which I live, I am called to LISTEN in each capsule of time for the one thing necessary to recognize how the Holy One is here, and then to let the angels tune my heart and voice as they feed me. Open my ears, Lord, that I may hear your voice!