Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Benedict’s Rule of Listening

Scripture: Psalm 81 “Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of you heart.” That is how the Prologue to The Rule of Saint Benedict begins. “Listen.” What a needed virtue. Not just within our relationships with others, but also to God.
Last time we discussed Contemplation as a gift and awareness. Contemplation is much more than a technique for creative brainstorming that leads to new ideas and exciting connections. Though contemplation might lead to something like that, contemplation "is not the fruit of our own efforts" Merton advised. Beyond mere thoughts, contemplation is ultimately an experience with the one named, "I AM." As opposed to receiving some new insight about God or carried away in psychological fantasies, contemplation moves us toward the mystery and freedom of the God who cannot be contained by our attempts to control Him or use Him for our own feelings or benefits. The gift in this case is its own reward, the Triune God who exists eternally as Father, Son, and Spirit, communal and one, self-emptying and sacrificial love. Merton reminds us that God is not a "what" or a "thing" but a pure "Who." (13) Beyond our own agendas and uses, however noble they may be, may we take intentional time to listen with our inner ears that we might hear and be drawn to the One who is in constant search of us and desires to give of His very self.
Why are we so quick to speak and so slow to listen?
Try one of the following exercises: Spend one day soon trying only to speak when you have to, so that you might focus on listening to other’s needs. Spend a meal in silence focusing on gratitude for God’s provisions.
What do you think God is trying to say to us?

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