How are we called to Listen for God in the New Year. God is close to us, always present, ever near. In a sense, all we need to do is to listen, to open ourselves up to the presence that is already within and all around us. It is so easy to walk through our life not fully awake. But God wants to communicate with us and offers us a multitude of ways to listen. So the first thing we need to do is wake up. How and where is God speaking, and how are you called to listen?
If you have or would visit our monastery, you would read the words Seek God above the entryway as soon as you enter the doors of the monastery. It is a reminder to each of the sisters and to all of our guests that we are called to Seek God to listen for God in each moment of our lives. In fact, we have a refrain that is sung at the election of a superior, the vows of a sister, and at any other important moment in our monastery – “Seek God in everyone and everything, every day of your life.” We could just as easily say Listen for God in everyone and everything, every day of your life.” And yet, how do we do this? I would like to offer us four ways of listening for God.
I believe that the foundation of all of our listening is found in prayer. It is so important to take time each day for silence so that we can open up a space within to hear the voice of God that speaks to us in every moment and every place. It is easy during our time of prayer to forget to listen for God. We might have lots on our mind that we want to share with God and, as a result, we talk a lot but forget to listen. So one way to listen for God is to include within your time of prayer time for silence so that you can listen to God with the ear of your heart. Maybe this time will come after you have spoken to God, maybe it will come before. It is not important when you take time for silence but that you take time for silence. As we learn to listen for God in the silence, we slowly tune our hearts to the sound of God’s voice. There is no substitute for prayer. It is on the foundation of prayer that all of our life is built. It is through prayer, that we will more readily hear God’s voice in other places.
God also speaks to us through our relationships. Sometimes God nurtures us through these relationships and at other times God challenges us. I think it is important to take time to look at our relationships and reflect on who the people are in my life that helps me listen for God more clearly. As we reflect on these relationships, we will also want to take time to look at ourselves and reflect on how we help others listen for God in their lives. It might be that as we reflect we realize that some of our relationships are not relationships that open us up to God’s voice. It would do us well to spend time with this reality and discern what we need to do to change the quality of these relationships.
I know that in my own life I am very thankful for the relationships that help me listen for God more deeply and more clearly. In these relationships, I can be myself, I can be vulnerable and I am able to hear God speaking to me through them.