It was September when I was reading Mark Nepo’s sensitive, insightful book, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen.  What a wonderful time of year to attempt to listen in a more intentional way. 

Listening, I heard the breeze blow through the leaves, the leaves ripple as they swayed; the rain splashing on the ground; the birds singing their songs of joy, and my cat purring her song of contentment

As I listened I could not be indifferent to this symphony of sound, and my heart opened to deep joy and yes, love. As I thanked God for speaking in so many varied voices, I felt as if God was saying, “I made all out of love and it is all good”.

My response was deep gratitude and love for each of God’s creatures and God’s creation. I realized that in simply listening there was no judgment, no criticism, no analyzing. It didn’t matter if I liked or didn’t like the particular birds who were singing or that it was raining out…again. It was in the simple act of listening that the joy and love settled in me. Listening had become the pathway to my heart; just letting what was, speak to me.

As I try to listen to the other, the people who come into my life, I have learned that it is in simply listening that love is developed and strengthened. In listening to the other, recognizing that each is made in God’s image, loved deeply by God, and good, I realize that is all I need to know. My place is not to judge, critique, or put the other into a predetermined box based on political preference, social status, race, religious beliefs, etc. 

St. Benedict began his Rule with the words “Listen …with the ear of the heart”. It is in this listening that we open our heart to the giving and receiving of love.

SHHHH. Listen. What do you hear?  What is it saying to your heart?