The Art and Practice of Listening

artofpractice1Native American story is quoted in “Following the Path: The Search For a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy”, by Joan Chittister, OSB.I have survived the worst of the pandemic and I wonder why. Perhaps you wonder, too, since so many people have not or are barely managing.

We are seeing much social injustice - racial discrimination, domestic violence, migration crises, environmental catastrophes. Life seems to be held cheaply while we see a rise in disordered isms of every type.

What am I to do? Is there some sort of a plan? I’m just one small and simple person, and I feel so tired. Does it even matter that I’m still here?

There is an ancient Native American story that goes like this:

“Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a coal mouse asked a wild dove.

"Nothing more than nothing,” the dove answered. 

“In that case I must tell you a marvelous story,” the coal mouse said. “I sat on a fir branch close to the trunk when it began to snow. Not heavily, not in a raging blizzard. No, just like a dream, without any violence at all. Since I didn’t have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,471,952. When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch—nothing more than a nothing—as you say—the branch broke off.” Having said that, the coal mouse ran away.

The dove, since Noah’s time an authority on peace, thought about the story for a while. Finally, she said to herself, “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come into this world.”





Perhaps that voice is yours.

The coal mouse listened to the wild dove and paid close attention to and reflected on what she saw.

The wild dove listened to the coal mouse and reflected on her God given gifts and what she experienced.

The story of the prophet Elijah in the First Book of Kings is another good story about listening. Elijah has been living through a rough time in history, to say the least, and he is hiding out of sight. There are those who would seek to destroy him. He needs some reinforcement from God. Here’s how it happens:

“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out at the mouth of the cave.” (I Kings: 11-13)

Elijah hid his face, for he had heard the voice of the Lord in a whisper. A whisper!

A small, simple thing. It was not the great winds or the shattering rocks or the fire or the earthquake that held the presence of God. It was a whisper!

YES! It matters that you are here.

You desire to hear God’s desire/God’s plan. So, take time to listen. Allow yourself the space for silence. Pray with your mouth/word bank closed and your ears, eyes, mind, heart opened to God.

God’s blessings to you,
United States Provincial

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