If you hear his voice today, do not harden your hearts (Psalm 95:8). And again: You that have ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:7). And what does he say? Come and listen to me sons; I will teach you the fear of the Lord (Ps 34:12). Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you (John 12:35). (RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in English, Prologue vs 10-13, p.16).
In the Prologue to The Rule of St. Benedict there are at least twelve references to listening. The very first word in The Rule is Listen. We can almost visualize St. Benedict as the loving father and teacher who is just fed up with a class of students who are not paying attention. The teachers job is to teach, while it is the place of the student to be quiet and to listen.
St. Benedict tells us here that God knows how very difficult it is for us to listen. Our personal lives are over run with noise. The exterior noise activates and agitates our interior noise.
I have written many blog posts about listening. This post will definitely not be the last. I can come up with any number of excuses not to listen to God. I bet you can too. I can fill this post with any number of legitimate reasons not to take the time to listen to God. Yet, there are equitable benefits that we do not consider.
When we take time to center ourselves on God in Lectio Divina, centering and/or contemplative prayer, we discover that God has been speaking to our hearts through life itself. The argument we just had. The letter we just received. The burden that we are carrying. God often speaks to our hearts when someone who loves us very much, tells us something that is very difficult to hear. There in those moments, God is coming to us to lovingly walk with us from our place of hardness of heart to a moment of conversion that affects every aspect of our lives. There we discover God’s compassion and love with infinite possibilities. We can accept and let go of ourselves into God’s care, with the humility to trust in God for where God will lead us next.
Today, if we hear God’s voice, may we not harden our hearts. May we listen by inclining the ears of our heart, as God meets us and leads us now and in the future.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB