listener; responder

20/366 - kitchen glass, after a washing.

A lovely bit of synchronicity over the last days:

First, Seth Godin asked:  What is the first thing you do when you sit down at the computer?

If you're an artist, a leader or someone seeking to make a difference, the first thing you do should be to lay tracks to accomplish your goals, not to hear how others have reacted/responded/insisted to what happened yesterday.

That stuck.  Am I producing? or just responding to the words and work produced by others?  Am I present in this day and its callings and ministry?  Or just racing to be included in some other person's conversations and ideas?

Second, a snowed-in day, and I had time to finish "The Rule of St. Benedict for Beginners"  again.

"The abbot needs to clarify what is good and salutary by his deeds rather than by his words,"

says St. Benedict.   I subsitituted the word "mother" for "abbot" and wrote it in my journal. 

I wonder...if I made a chart, two columns:  prayer and the Word on one side....checking comments, returning email, FB, blogs, etc. on the other and I tallied minutes for each, which side would have the most minutes? 

What are my deeds telling my children?  Head bent over an iTouch..."What did you say, honey? I'll be done in a minute."  Face to the screen...."Just need to finish this email!"  ( *trembling* How many times a day does my family see me kneeling before the prayer bench or with Scripture in my lap?)

The Benedictines cultivate a listening heart.  "The word which has been heard must become incarnate, transformed into reality, into results." 

There is a time for responding, a Voice that requires our response.

I wonder...if most of the time I am listening to other people's words, other people's work, what is becoming incarnate in my life?  And, if most of my energy goes to responding to others...which I know is true though I hate to see it framed so starkly...when am I listening to God alone?  And how can I respond to Him whom I have barely had time to hear?

In the quiet of a snow-bound house I scratched this out, responding to the Spirit who speaks always for our good:

  • No responding - no emails or facebook, no chore lists, no writing, no working, no chatter - until I have listened.  (Listen, listen, listen to the Word "so that we will know whether we should stand still or change"**....)
  • Change the tally marks until there is no question what my deeds are saying.  (Divine Hour prayer three (or four, if I can manage it) times a day - an old practice that has fallen by the way in my life - and ongoing intercession for others.  One time a day to respond to the online world.)
  • Remember:  I do not pivot around the words of people online.  I pivot around the Word.

Today I put my handy little iTouch in a drawer, left the computer off until it was time to attend to it later in the afternoon.  And I spent another day listening.  I kept today's Scripture reading out in the living room so I could fill my thoughts when my fingers got itchy for the keyboard.  I let the silence fill the corners of my mind instead of wondering what is happening online or chatting on facebook or rushing to be a part of the noise.  

I pray I can do it again tomorrow and every other day after that.    


**20 Minute Novitate