Thursday, September 25, 2008

Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes --
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Wow. Two posts in one week... I'm back, in deed!

For the past several days this quote has been ringing in every fiber of my being. Perhaps it's the absolutely beautiful weather we've had... or maybe it's the glimpses of the divine I've seen in the people I've encountered... I just think I'm finally paying attention.

Currently, I'm reading a book entitled Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith. In this book are thoughts, lecture notes, and ideas of Henri Nouwen sytematically laid out after his death by Michael Christensen and Rebecca Laird. This book is ... great. That's an understatement, but I feel that anything I could say is an understatement. It's meant both for people who are seeking spiritual direction, but also for those who minister as spiritual directors.

Anyway, I read something today that I just had to share with you all. Why? It moved me and I thought that perhaps other people could benefit as well:

Before the word was incarnated in her womb, Mary bore witness to the
word of God. Because of her obedient listening, the word could become flesh
in her. Listening is a very vulnerable stance. Mary was so vulnerable,
so open, and so receptive that she could listen with her whole being.
Nothing in her resisted the word that was announced to her by the angel. She was
"all ears" and heart. Thus, the promise could be fulfilled in her far beyond her
own understanding and control. "I am the Lord's servant," Mary said. "May it be
to me as you have said" (Luke 1:38).

Listening is the core attitude of the person who is open to God's living
and creative word. Prayer is listening to God, being open and receptive to God's
influence. True listening has become increasingly difficult in churches and
institutions, where people remain on their guard, afraid to expose their weaker
side, eager to be recognized as successful and bright. in our contemporary
competitive society, listening often is a way of "checking the other person out." It is a defensive stance in which we do not really allow anything to happen to us. It is a suspicious way of receiving that makes us wonder what serves our purposes and what does not. The psalmist warns against this hardening of heart:

Today, listen to the voice of the Lord; Do not grow stubborn, as your
fathers and mothers did in the wilderness, when at Meriba and Massah they challenged me and provoked me, although they had seen all my works. (Psalm 95: 7-9)

The word of God here is to listen to the voice of love and not to harden your hearts.

This kind of listening asks us to model our lives on Jesus and to commit to follow the way of life Jesus set forth. This listening assumes a personal prayer life and a belief in Jesus's activity in the world today as the Living Word of God.

Listening to the incarnate word of life is the heart of Christian faith. In Mary, we see the purest form of this listening. That is why she is called "blessed' by her cousin Elizabeth. it is through her obedience to the word that became flesh in her that she becomes not only the mother of God but also the mother of all the faithful. We who wish to be faithful are called to this same kind of obedience. When we listen faithfully to the word, the word becomes flesh in us and dwells among us.

...

Perhaps you think about the word of God as a divine exhortation to go out and change your life. But the full power of the word lies not in how you apply it to your life after you have heard it but in how its transforming power does its divine work in you as you listen.



Wow. That can certainly give you a lot to reflect upon... In fact, I've been praying with this most of the day - in the midst of the busyness. And perhaps that's why the quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning is moving within...

Many blessings to all who read this!

Sr. N

5 comments:

Kelly_SSJ/A said...

wow!!!! That quote holds a LOT. Thank you for sharing. Perhaps you could share if that book has anything to say about patience?

Sr.Nicole Trahan said...

Hi, Kelly,
Thanks for always checking in to see how I'm doing and for your support!
I haven't come across anything in the book on patience, yet. But if I do, I'll make sure I get it to you. When you have time I hope that you will read this book, too. It's really a great book for spiritual reflection and seeing how God is working within and around us. I have found it very insightful...
I hope that you are well!

Esteban said...

Wow, again with the listening... maybe I ought to listen more closely. Or maybe I'm getting confirmation that I'm doing an OK job listening (there haven't been too many 2x4s lately).

Mmmh, a lot to ponder upon I have.

Kelly_SSJ/A said...

Thanks for the book suggestion! I will have to check it out...I am sure it has many pearls of wisdom! :) I am getting ready to move this weekend so please keep me in your prayers.

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