A nice small group of us gathered at 7am on Sept. 20th to begin a new practice. We took a little time to check-in with each other sharing our name and a word or two that described how we were feeling. Then we took a couple minutes of silent meditation to focus on being present and open to God as we gathered together. After sharing a little of what that experience was like we began reading the first chapter of Henri Nouwen's book, Discernment, Reading the Signs of Daily Life.
Those who had books took turns reading aloud as we went around. I enjoyed listening to the different voices that read. When I hear these types of books read aloud it is more helpful and connecting for me mainly because most of the book is written in a style, for "you" to hear from the voice of the writer. We got to actually hear a voice say what was written.
This first chapter spoke of embracing a practice of discernment. This was described as faithfully listening to God. We do this on our own and as part of a community. This was very affirming considering that was precisely what we were starting and just finished doing as we sat in silence listening.
After the youth retreat focused on "Story" as a theme. I am connecting the most to the word "listen" as central to discernment. I found how true it is that in a similar way that I sat in silence in God's presence listening during the Morning Meditation, I also took a similar posture when listening to people share their story at the retreat. This time of reflecting on these experiences had brought clarity as to how I was listening and open to God speaking through silence as well as through other's stories. I also realize how one of the greatest gifts we have to give each other is to fully and attentively listen to each other. It is the gift that God has given us first that we get to share with others as we discern the next chapters in our story together.
I am wondering how we might find ways to listen to each other more and to allow and encourage people to speak their story in our community. If like the UCC tagline of, "God is still speaking," then I wonder more about the ways we can practice and have times to listen. By the way, the comma in the quotes of the tagline is intentional to say and remind us not to put a period where God has put a comma. Maybe we can modify the ELCA tagline to fit and live out, "God's work. Our ears." I also remembered a song, "Listen, God is Calling" and enjoyed leading that in worship on Sunday as we prepared to hear the scripture read aloud.