Psalm 78:1. “Hear my teaching, O my people; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.”
Several years ago, I spent a summer participating in a pastoral care internship. As the summer progressed, I realized I was really doing an internship on learning to listen. I came to understand that listening is essential for good pastoral care, but it is also essential to having prayerful, loving, vibrant, and meaningful relationships with God and others.
Everyday, we choose to what or to whom we offer our ears. When we “give ear,” we are giving our time and attention. We are opening ourselves. When we incline our ears to something or someone, we are turning our lives in a particular direction.
Over the course of that summer, one of my colleagues talked about the “ear gate” and refused to listen to certain music or participate in some conversations. He closed himself to some people, experiences, and ideas. I didn’t agree with the choices he made, but I appreciated his insight that ears are a gateway to the heart, the deep heart that knows God, receives the life of another, shapes who and how we are, and inclines us toward the direction our lives should follow.
*Originally written for and published by Forward Day by Day.
Your meditation reminds me that the first word in the Rule of St. Benedict is “Listen.” Benedictines listen to various religious writings while eating in common. It’s a wonderful practice that encourages meditation. Also, in the Tampa area, in the old days of large cigar-making factories, there was always a ‘reader’ to engage the minds of the workers, usually reading the daily newspaper. In that way, workers, no matter what their literacy, could keep current with their community and the world.
St. Benedict offers a profound and wise first word to his rule. I’ve been to monasteries that practiced readings during meal time. I did not know, however, of that practice in the cigar factories. Thank you for telling me of that.
God’s peace be with you,