Search for the LORD and His strength; continually seek His face. Psalms 105:4
It is clear that we are usually surrounded by so much inner and outer noise that it is hard to truly hear our God when God is speaking to us. We have often become deaf, unable to know when God calls us and unable to understand in which direction God calls us. Thus our lives have become absurd. In the world “ absurd” we find the Latin word surdis, which means “deaf.”
A spiritual life requires discipline because we need to learn to listen to God, who constantly speaks but whom we seldom hear. When, however, we learn to listen, our lives become obedient lives. The word “obedient” comes from the Latin word audire, which means “listening.” A spiritual discipline is necessary in order to move slowly from an absurd to an obedient life, from a life filled with noisy worries to a life in which there is some free inner space where we can listen to our God and follow God’s guidance. Jesus’ life was a life of obedience. He was always listening to the Father, always attentive to His voice, always alert for His directions. Jesus was “all ear.” That is true prayer: being all ear for God. The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God. Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New
So I did the walk around Reid Park thing this morning. The same old, same old, yearning to become new. The scuttling quail, like so many little sea crabs. The hawk so close overhead I can almost reach out to touch it. The callings of the peacocks from behind the zoo walls. The bursting red cactus apples. But mostly, I smiled and said hello to the dozens of people joining me in this early morning, before-the-heat-of-the-day walk. Pilgrims really. Each one choosing to get out of bed, slip on worn shoes and head out the door to a day with both very well-known hard hills that need to be climbed and curves leading into the equally unknown.
And yes, even here at home, I heard His voice: I love that one, the one with the University of California Berkeley t-shirt and that one too, pushing a stroller with a sleeping baby. And that older Japanese couple with big floppy hats. And Mr. Armet on his bicycle. Each is beloved, not because of the choices chosen, the feelings felt, or the actions taken, but because I AM Love. And you, my child, are to love because I first loved you, from the beginning of time.
And really, that is all I ask of you. To love Me and likewise, in the same heartbeat, love your neighbor.
And on the plane I was reflecting on another Nouwen writing, about the characteristics of the blessed ones is that, wherever they go, they always speak words of blessing. It is remarkable how easy it is to bless others, to speak good things to and about them, to call forth their beauty and truth when you yourself are in touch with your own blessedness. The blessed one always blesses. And people want to be blessed! This is so apparent where you go. No one is brought to life through curses, gossip, accusations, or blaming. There is so much of that taking place around us all the time. And it calls forth only darkness, destruction, and death. As the “blessed ones,” we can walk through this world and offer blessings. It doesn’t require much effort. It flows naturally from our hearts. When we hear within ourselves the Voice calling us by name and blessing us, the darkness no longer distracts us. The Voice that calls us the Beloved will give s words to bless others and reveal to them that they are no less blessed than we. Life of the Beloved.
Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? James 3:11
And there was a little Everette-curled girl who was loading up onto the plane with her two dads. And as soon as she got on the plane she squirmed and wiggled, and her dad who was holding her asked, “Do you want to say hello to the people?” and she replied with an eager nod. She slipped out of his arms and walked down the aisle with a huge smile and a huge hello, and one at a time she blessed each and every settling hassled weary squished soul. And each one could not but help return her smile and her hello. And it was a beautiful thing. Spreading joy and peace, blessing, down an without-an-empty-seat American Airlines aisle.
And Tracy and I, grandmas that we are, watched a lot of equally beautiful children throughout our ride through Europe. And again and again we understood why we are to come to Him as little children.
Little children at rest in His love.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.