This is a strange time we’re living through, isn’t it? For many of us, our day-to-day world is involuntarily constricted in ways and at a scale we’ve never experienced. We can’t go to work or the gym, visit our friends, pray together in church or sit in a restaurant or movie theater. Like many of you, I’m using some of this time to read and listen to blogs more often. Yesterday, I encountered an author and a presenter who each referenced an obscure point of fact, and that got my attention. I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe in “coincidences.” Instead, I immediately wonder if the Holy Spirit might be trying to shake me gently, saying “Wake up, dear one—I have a message for you!” I think this is one of those times. The reference was to the first word of the Rule of St. Benedict for monastics: “Listen.” What an excellent piece of advice for me, and perhaps for you, too, as we walk collectively through a desert of unknown dimensions. During this period of disruption, uncertainty, loss and anxiety, the good Lord knows we are all listening, as we must, to the news and to our leaders for information and guidance. But what else should we be listening to right now? What can we learn from listening with the ears of our hearts?
I’m listening to the quiet of the earth, especially before dawn. The birdsong, wind and rain remind me to slow down, turn off my gadgets, and simply BE.
From the countless volunteers, workers, parents and caregivers, I hear the voice of hope speaking through their selfless actions.
I hear the voices of the aging and the sick with a new awareness, reflecting on their daily struggle and what it can teach me about acceptance of limits and reliance on God.
From people in parts of the world where store shelves are routinely empty and where there is no water to wash your hands, I hear the voice of my conscience reminding me to put my hardships in perspective.
My body speaks to me, asking for care, respect, gentleness and appreciation. My Lenten observance of abstinence and fasting is helping me hear that voice.
From advocates for the homeless and refugees, who have nowhere safe to “shelter in place,” I hear the voice of our Lord commanding me to love my neighbor as myself.
When I listen in the silence of meditation or prayer, I sometimes hear God’s reassuring voice above the clamor of my mind and emotions. It tells me that we WILL get across this desert. And when we reach the end, we will not find a mirage, but the most real oasis we could ever hope for, refreshment that will never cease to satisfy.
That is the promise of Easter. Won’t you take a few minutes and listen for that voice today?