March 2000 (Vol. XIII, No. 3)

May we all receive the BLESSINGS of a listening heart, dear friends! For, as we cultiate our heart's ear to listen deeply in the Silence, we will begin to hear inner promptings of the indwelling Divine Guest.

To listen is to become lost in God

To meditate is to become silent. In that inner quietness, you lose yourself in God's creation. You recognize the Creator in all of creation. ...To meditate is to keep on listening, listening, listening to God. To listen is to become lost in God, sensing God everywhere. To be silent is a form of being in love with God, and so is weeping in total surrender into immense love and longing for God.


Listening and hearing

There is a very important distinction to be made between listening and hearing. Sometimes we listen to things, but we never hear them. True listening brings us in touch even with that which is unsaid and unsayable. Sometimes the most important thresholds of mystery are places of silence. To be genuinely spiritual is to have great respect for the possibilities and presence of silence. ...When you listen with your soul, you come into rhythm and unity with the music of the universe.

~ From ANAM CARA by John O'Donohue

It is particularly when you talk that you must know how to listen

When you are about to talk, wait a second and consult the indwelling Divine Guest and like someone receiving a visit or listening; without knowing it, grace will be your guide. When you are questioned, swallow your reply and wait a second to hear what you should say; it is particularly when you talk that you must know how to listen. If you are going to see someone, pause for a moment so that you can take Another with you.

~ From OUR PRAYER by Louis Evely

Listening as a spiritual practice

People today in a competitive corporate secular world are not encouraged to take up listening AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE. It requires tremendous life forces TO LISTEN, to become inwardly still, to suspend self-talk and arrogant critical and judgmental tendencies and to be present to another person or reality. ...The rudiments of spiritual (or other) knowledge may be received through the ear, but when these ideas penetrate the heart and are apprehended by the heart's eye, then HEARING BECOMES VISION.

~ Therese Schroeder-Scheker in SO THAT YOU MAY BE ONE by Joa Bolendas

If we don't listen, we can't act with compassion

When we don't listen, we are shutting ourselves off -- not from others but from ourselves. We can't do anything from a place of knowing. When we think we know something, we don't listen. We have to empty ourselves over and over, return to unknowing, and just listen. And listen. And listen... And once we listen, we have to act. The functioning that comes out of listening -- out of "Attention!" -- is compassionate action. If we don't listen, we can't act with compassion.

~ from BEARING WITNESS by Bernie Glassman

The most perfect prayer

The most perfect prayer breathes in a heart that remains silent before God and knows how to listen to God.

~ A.I. Okumura


The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside.

~ From MARKINGS by Dag Hammerskjold

Listening to the soul's recessed certainty

Our awareness of God is a syntax or the silence in which our souls mingle with the divine, in which the ineffable in us communes with the ineffable beyond us. It is the afterglow of years in which soul and sky are silent together, the outgrowth of accumulated certainty of the abundant, never-ending presence of the divine. All we need to do is to let the insight be and to listen to the soul's recessed certainty of its being a parenthesis in the immense script of God's eternal speech.

~ Abraham Joshua Heschel

Creating an inner space where genuine listening takes place

For the abbas (fathers) and ammas (mothers) of the desert, solitude with its silence was a creative medium, a forge of transformation through which the false self in its adaptation to the pride, luxury, lust for power, and greed of the "world" was melted away in the fires of spiritual discernment. One emerged from the silence as a transformed self ... a person of humility, compassion, and responsiveness to the Word of God.

Silence was much more than not speaking, it was mostly a quality of heart. It was the creation of an inner space where genuine listening takes place. The ammas and abbas knew that in silence the Word most readily takes root.

~ from THE VIGIL by Wendy M. Wright with thanks to Elizabeth Fribance

To listen another's soul into a condition of disclosure

To "listen" another's soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another. But in this scrutiny of the business of listening, is that all that has emerged? Is it blasphemous to suggest that over the shoulder of the human listener, there is never absent the silent presence of the Eternal Listener, the living God? For in penetrating to what is involved in listening, do we not disclose the thinness of the filament that separates person listening openly to one another, and that of God intently listening to each soul?

~ from GLEANINGS by Douglas V. Steere

I am beginning to listen a lot

It has been a long year. Can I REALLY be well again? "Thank You for another day," I whisper each morning. The sheets on my bed feel good. The light coming through the window is a gift. How do I want to live out this day? I look at the African violet on my windowsill. If I don't water it, it will die. I see that my spirit is no different. I am beginning to listen a lot. The silence is my water.

~ from GIFT OF THE RED BIRD by Paula D'Arcy

Our part is to pay attention

Our part is to pay attention,
to notice,
to turn aside,
to look deeper at each moment,
to look for God's presence,
to listen for God's word.

~ Carole Crumley

Everything in the world has a voice and speaks

Calm and serene, let us listen to the Inner Voice. How could I have lived all that time without realizing that everything in the world has a voice and speaks? Not just the things that are supposed to speak, but the others, like the gate, the walls of the houses, the shade of trees, the sand, and the silence. Even before my accident [where I went blind], I loved sound, but now it seems clear that I didn't listen to it.

It was as though the sounds of earlier days were too far away from me, and heard through a fog. At all events my accident had thrown my head against the humming heart of things, and the heart never stopped beating.

~ from AND THERE WAS LIGHT by Jacques Lusseyran