Listen Freely

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

They brought him someone hard of hearing who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hands on the man. Leading him away from the crowd, he placed his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue and looking heavenward sighed and said, ‘Ephphatha’; ‘Be opened!’ Mark 7:32-34

Seeker,
What does it take to open your heart?

Are you following all the surface chatter;
that social media static—
a billion voices buzzing?

Inundated by a multitude of messages,
so much is being said
about the power and prerogatives of free speech,

but who is freely listening—
opening a receptive space,
leaning in close, with focused attention?

Myriad opportunities present themselves every day,
inviting us to incline our heads
and expose our core.

Listen carefully… to the master’s instructions,
and attend to them with the ear of your heart.

From the prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict

Though there are countless modes of communication,
and immeasurable ways to attend to life,
gentle listening is the silent language of love.

We can listen for the strike;
the clash and clamor of events;
action and reaction in the explosive cloud of crisis and conflict.

Then, there is heartfelt attention,
attuned to the lingering resonances;
residual whispers of lives barely noticed.

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. Henri Nouwen

When mistrust breeds fear, injustice brews resentment,
and violation begets revenge,
we are bidden to listen through threats and past tears.

Will we listen till we hear
our lives and our hopes,
echoed in the cries of other voices?

Dare we wade deeply enough into realities
to acknowledge their complexity
and our complicity?

Can listening be our avenue
to share pains and bring hidden possibilities to light?
Otherwise, how might we come close to understanding?

Incline your ear to me; answer swiftly on the day when I call. Psalm 102:2

Leaning in to listen to another,
paying heed to a need beyond my own,
re-places the center of gravity outside me and mine.

We can ill-afford to reject
this defining orientation of our humanity;
an authentic expression of our God-likeness.

May we not abandon listening
but rather listen with abandon,
throwing wide the hinges of our hearts.

For healing happens when together we listen
to the LIFE within our lives; to the timeless tale
playing out behind and between our varied accounts.

We can listen our way out
of anger, if we let the heart
soften the wolf we keep inside.
Mark Nepo

Much harder than simply hearing;
we listen with our eyes,
with our faces and our entire being.

As you attend to the wind and the song-birds’ chatter,
to sea creatures and the silent stars,
let listening be your first, most enduring prayer.

And may you listen freely with the Great Listener,
for signals of resilient hope and signs of tenacious life
beneath the events of our times.

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Blessed Sacrament of the Other

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

… when was it we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?…
Matthew 25:37-39

Seeker,
Who would you alienate, cast out beyond the sweep of your concern?

Made to make connections—
thee and me becoming WE—
all of us yearn for unanimity.

Craving companionship,
we need to feel part of and are afraid of being torn apart from
our common-union.

The quality
of our humanity,
is calibrated by the breadth of this connectivity.

For none can find wholeness
when the threads of correlation
are systematically severed.

Otherwise, we claim our place in the seamless tapestry,
along with every other creature
embroidered into a garment called holiness.

… we live in the light and the love of those
who came before us, and who helped us to see
and celebrate and recognize ourselves …
David Whyte

Though it wreaks devastation—
torture unspeakable for profoundly relational beings—
pervasive alienation remains; sin of a sundered world.

When the layers of connective tissue
that link us are tattered,
Christ suffers torments unbearable—in minds and bodies shattered.

Isolation haunts homes, hallways and highways,
wherever we settle for hollow commodity—
a cheap substitute for more costly community.

Meanwhile, hanging around every corner,
Corpus Christi languishes;
denuded of dignity, devoid of friendship, fettered and famished.

The Holy One draws near to the brokenhearted,
saving those crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

But mercy tolerates neither exclusion nor exception.
Such exemptions lead only to
domination and desecration.

The warm glow of compassion permits no dark corners,
and no life lies beyond
its infinite, radiant range.

For we are already woven into every other life.
It is the same breath we all share;
free-gifted from forest and fresh ocean air.

We find belonging when we are blessed and broken together.
In such communion we really taste, touch, see, meet
Christ Presence, in the sacrament of one another.

Christ so close, Christ so dear.
How dare we not see you,
when you are so near?

Connection and care
unlock the tabernacle,
exposing a most blessed sacrament.

The scope of our love is not measured
merely by those we welcome,
but also by those from whom our care is willfully withheld.

Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, who are members of my family, you did it to me. Matthew 25:40

May you become a daily communicant,
ready to reach out and receive that other
sacrament most blessed —Christ-present in every sister and brother.

joe 

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill