Meanderings

Holy Listening – May 2002

Link: Companions in Christ | Tools & Tips.

Companions in Christ introduces us to spiritual practices and invites us to make them part of our daily lives. One of these practices is listening, or more specifically, holy listening. When we practice holy listening in the company of a friend or small group, we make ourselves fully present to the speaker. We listen with our ears, our hearts, and with that mysterious part of our being, our souls. Although the spoken words are important, what we see and do not see, what we sense and find absent, also informs us.

In Companions in Christ, holy listening focuses on listening for God’s voice through the weekly articles, daily reflections, journaling, and the weekly meeting. But we can expand our practice of holy listening beyond personal or small group conversations. We can learn to listen for the Spirit in all of God’s creation. Here are some suggestions for expanding your experience of holy listening. Perhaps you will want to share them with your Companions in Christ group members and encourage them to record their reflections in their journals.

Body: Set aside time to listen to what your body says to you. If you feel energized and joyful, perhaps you are walking in the presence of God. If you are at peace, perhaps you have found what Joseph Campbell calls your "bliss track". If you are irritable and tired, perhaps God has a call for your life that you have not yet discovered, or perhaps you are neglecting Sabbath time.

Creation: Pay attention to the soil, vegetation, water and air. Practice "listening" to the language of each. Touch the soil. Smell the vegetation. Breathe the air. What do you hear? Does the Spirit tell you the creation is being tenderly cared for? Is all well with God’s creation? Do you hear a personal call to play an active part in its well being or give voice to its needs?

Silence: What do you hear in the silence? Does it bring you welcome rest and serenity — the silence found in the room of a sleeping baby. Does it bring comfort and rejuvenation? Perhaps you hear a sweet awkwardness — the silence between two people anxious to speak but unable to find words. Or uneasy awkwardness present when words of reconciliation need to be spoken, but are not.

Interruptions: Next time you are interrupted while in the midst of meaningful work or conversation, practice holy listening. Perhaps the interruption is an invitation to share the excitement of another’s hard-earned accomplishment. Or an opportunity to offer comfort or words of encouragement to someone.

Each time Jesus spoke through a parable, he was encouraging us to practice holy listening. He asked us to hear the message that was deeper than the words. He taught us to listen for God’s voice.

Listening to one another with quiet patience and an expectation that in their words we will discover the voice of God is a wonderful gift to give to another.