In the hurrying and scurrying of these busy days, we can remind one another and remind ourselves of choices. We can remind one another and ourselves of intentions. We can remind one another and ourselves of what matters most. It can be as hard and as easy as slowing down, paying attention and listening.
One of my favorite parts of my job is the bookends at the beginning and the end of the day. Every morning I park in the parking deck on Clairmont and set out walking through an upper part of Lullwater park to Egleston. And then on good days, when work is done, I walk back to my car in the deck. It's not quite a mile each direction. How great is that? I get to begin and end with sounds of birds singing and squirrels playing. I get to see the sky and the clouds and the trees and the leaves. I get to remember to breathe. And with these things, I am reminded of the Holy. The Holy that was, is and will be. The Holy that is seen and unseen. The Holy that Listens to it all.
Coming or going to work, all along the way there are signs and symbols of our mid-winter living. Nature shows ways to help navigate through this season. Living/dying, growing/decaying, dawning/dusking. Over my head and beneath my feet, nature brings guides. Through this winter lens I can often get a glimpse into winter's gifts and graces. There is a stark truth and honesty about this season. There is an timelessness all around. It's easy to miss it, when I'm distracted or just plain tired. But when I am paying attention, when I'm seeing, when I'm listening, there are so many things to discover. Trees, long hidden by their leaves are now visible. Seeing their stark branches, I see what looks to me like the trees' most vulnerable times. And what I am seeing in truth, has always been there, right before our eyes. If only I had eyes to see.
Gifts come when I pay attention. Holy listening is just that. Listening for what is more than I might first notice around me, and paying attention to what I am hearing. So much of our days can just feel noisy. So much feels amplified and turned all the way up. AND there is life, too. Our lives are being lived out in all the busyness and commotion and noise. What matters, what makes all the difference is when we don't ignore, don't grow numb, don't dismiss what is alive around us. Holy Listening comes when we are awake to the life that is there. It comes when we tune in and don't tune out. It is listening through the noise and listening for the heart of the message. It comes when we do our best to be as fully present as we can possibly be.
Holy listening is listening with our hearts first. It is getting out of my own way, and focusing on the one who is right there with us. Holy listening both marks this very instant that you are completely alive and marks in that same moment when time stands still. Holy listening is being mindful of God's presence. And the gift - for this Advent and each day throughout the year - is that the Holy is always, always with us. When we are listening for the Holy, we are making room for something gentler, wiser, kinder. Here, with these intentions we are creating a space when every now and then, the dear Lord enters in.