Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

Silence ...

I went out to lunch with my parents yesterday, which is always a treat.

My parents are almost 80 years old. My dad still works full-time as the senior partner in his law firm. My mom works for my dad most afternoons. They go out to lunch together almost every day. Occasionally, I get invited along.

We had great conversation. They are some of the only people besides my husband who love hearing about my kids … in detail!

However, during one part of our conversation, I noticed I was not listening well to my mom. She (a nurse) was trying to explain something medical to me, and I kept talking over her, explaining to her that I already knew what she was trying to tell me.

Yuk.

Why did I do that?

Why do I often do that?

I use my words to try to control people. To try to explain to them how much I know. To try to correct them; fix them, even.

I want to be a better listener. Do you?

First, then, we must start with silence.

“Silence frees us from the need to control others … A frantic stream of words flows from us in attempt to straighten others out. We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see things our way. We evaluate people, judge people, condemn people. We devour people with our words. Silence is one of the deepest disciplines of the Spirit because it puts the stopper on that.” (Richard Foster)

Oh silence, will you be my friend?

We Don't Have to Fix ...

One of the main reasons that many of us refuse to get involved with hurting people is that we believe we need to fix them.

And we know we can’t.

A friend whose child has cancer…

A friend whose spouse walks out…

A stranger in need…

We know we do not have an easy answer. And for some reason this terrifies us. And it makes us feel like we have nothing to offer. And so we find reasons to bail. We even find ourselves resenting their need.

How might our response to hurting people be different if we simply declared to ourselves, “I do not need to fix this for him/her. I can simply offer them the gift of my presence and my prayers.”

Oh sure, we can offer practical things, too … a meal, a ride, an encouraging note.

But we can rid ourselves of the (somewhat self-centered) desire to “fix” them and make everything all right.

I love how Rosemary Dougherty puts it:

“At times the strength of the spiritual community lies in the love of people who refrain from getting caught in the trap of trying to fix everything for us, who pray for us and allow us the pain of our wilderness, our wants, so that we may be more deeply grounded in God.”

“Mourn with those who mourn …” said the Apostle Paul. Notice that he did not say, “Make their mourning go away.”

Stillness ...

“Be still, and know that I am God …”

How rarely we do that; just be still. Just let God be God.

It is so hard.

Because if he is God, then I am definitely not.

And sometimes that is just tough to face.

So, we run and run and run, hoping somehow to prove our worth, to find meaning, to justify our existence.

Is it too much for God to ask that one day a week we “be still?” Is it too much for God to ask that every once in awhile we simply allow him to be God?

This poem from Mary Oliver helps me do these really hard things:

Today

Today I’m flying low and I’m

not saying a word.

I’m letting the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,

the bees in the garden rumbling a bit,

the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.

And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.

Quiet as a feather.

I hardly move though really I’m traveling

a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors

into the temple.