Slow Down to Listen

The Abbey – deck

It is a habit of mine to give names to things. I have named our cars, my bicycle, the chickens… Why? Doesn’t matter, I guess. It’s just fun. I call my house “Upton Abbey” because we live in a second floor add-on on our daughter and son-in-law’s property in Brush Prairie, Washington. Anyhow, these thoughts came as I was praying at home on the deck.

As I come to prayer again this morning, I realize that I need to renew my willingness to listen for the voice of the Spirit. Slowing down to listen is an important skill.

I remember working in the woods, desperately thirsty and wanting water. My crew partner and I,  would walk and then abruptly stop to listen. We were listening for the sound of gurgling water somewhere nearby. Sometimes it was difficult to sort out the sounds. A gentle breeze moving among the trees can mimic the sound of water. Intense thirst completes the illusion. But the point of importance to me this morning is the stopping to listen. I suppose my heart can create an illusion as well, but I must stop to listen nonetheless. Is what I hear –think I hear– the whisper of the Spirit?

Path around Johnston Park gardens

Another time, I was at The Grotto, a Catholic meditation garden, parish and Servite monastery near our home. Nearly every day I would enter by a back gate and spend time praying. While walking the path around a flowing water feature, I noted the sound of the water as though it were coming from my left, not to the right where the water was flowing.

It was only noticeable in one place on the path. One step more or less and I heard nothing. As I paused, I realized the sound was a reflection–an echo–caused by a bench next to the path. In one narrow place, I could hear the whisper of the water.

I’m guessing that these thoughts–the thirst and the whisper–are Father’s reminder to slow down and listen. Thirsty? Listen. Too often unwarranted feelings of urgency propel me beyond the whisper.

Take me back, Lord, to the place
Where I first learned how to hear.
To the path of new beginnings,
When you touched my deafened ears.
Take me to the place
Where I heard your whispered song.
Take me back, Lord, my Father
To the place where I belong.

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