I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. - Hosea 11:9
The ambiguity of a global pandemic tempts us to anxiety and doubt. We feel discomfited by demands of protest and the realities they present. Confusion and chaos seem more present than calm and consolation. In all of this, I have felt invited to listen more deeply to my world, myself, and my God.
Padraig O’Tuama writes, “Listening isn’t just the simple biological act of tuning your ears toward something that’s being articulated. It’s also a feeling.” We all know the feeling. Remember what you said about the person who listened to you? You felt you were heard.
At the same time, I want to be heard. When we are heard, we feel our existence validated, and we feel, even if only momentarily, in safe shelter. That is the hope of prayer, isn’t it? To be listened to and heard.
How often do we plead for our family, friends, communities – our God – to listen? Sometimes, perhaps more times than not, we do not even need a reply. We merely want to be listened to. My prayers often beg God to listen. The silent whispers in the night to the grand liturgies of cathedrals call out to be heard. Lord, are you listening?
Recently, the day of physical isolation merged with emotional isolation and, unsurprisingly, moved to spiritual isolation. Another way of saying it, I was desolate. Prayer was that whisper in the dark. The day unfolded in an unspectacular sort of way. Our son called to ask about a recipe, a friend texted a joke and another sent a picture of a hummingbird. Our grandchildren facetimed to proudly reveal their artwork of the day. And in the evening, we took the time to play a trivia game with extended family via zoom. Isolation dissoved into belonging.
When it came time for gratitude in the bedtime examen, I discovered I felt better as the day ended than I had when the day began. I felt deeply the words of the psalmist "he inclined to me and heard my cry." Psalm 40. I knew I'd been heard. There had been no magic, thunderbolt, or mystical experience. Just people the Lord led "with cords of kindness, with bands of love."
Loving God -
Presence unseen, but heard through heart, mind and imagination;
Breath of life;
In the quiet of this moment we listen.
You are the still centre of a world in flux -
Calm our fears and anxieties for the future, we pray.
You are the energy that fuels love -
Turn us from self to the other.
In Jesus name, we pray.
- by Anna Magnuson and Padraig O'Tuama