A powerful, thought-provoking insight....

Give me a well-trained tongue that has been borne out of silent listening in the sanctuary of my heart.

~ sevensacredpauses by Macrina Wiederkehr

Monday, July 14, 2008

This is the Beginning: Learning to Listen

It's been difficult to learn to listen. There are so many voices out there. In learning how to listen, I've learned it's about making choices. There are occasional mornings that as I wake up, I actually try to put off "hearing" anything until I can make it to my home office. It's like once I allow the cacophony to enter my head, I have a harder time tuning in to the voice I want to hear. The harder it is to bring God into the moment with me. Sometimes, just walking down the hallway, I'll begin my prayers as a way of keeping the demands of the world at bay for a few more moments.

Walking and praying. That's actually been a practice within the spiritual community for ages. I walked a labyrinth this past Lent for the first time. It was a powerful experience. I'm trying to figure out where my own faith community could make room for one. Currently, we are renovating a small room under our steeple to use as a meditation and prayer room. I'm so excited about the possibilities for our community -- that of our congregation as well as the folks who live and work nearby. What a good thing we're doing -- providing a much-needed place of quiet and solitude in the middle (sort of) a very busy, hectic little town.

But back to making choices. When we make the decision to begin deeply exploring our spiritual selves, we must also make the decision to acquire the best tools for the job. A quiet place and something to write on and with are critical. But our mind set has to be proper as well. Choosing to let go of distractions, choosing to let the moment develop and bring whatever insights will come, choosing to hear and experience those insights regardless of the emotional pain -- these are all choices we can make. The rewards of spiritual exploration: happiness, contentment, joy, the release of old injuries -- are only as plentiful as the work is serious that has gone into the exploration. During the last 18 months, I've kept going, through a lot of painful realizations, because the reward of feeling so much better inside and out has been worth it.

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