an act of courage: to be and to listen
“When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening. I will never understand the silent dying of the green pie-apple tree if I do not slow down and listen to what the Spirit is telling me, telling me of the death of trees, the death of planets, of people, and what all these deaths mean in the light of love of the Creator, who brought them all into being, who bought me in to being, and you.” Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle
The paragraph that follows this says art is a response to the human question of the meaning of being and dying. But I was arrested by Madeleine’s premise that being and listening is of serious importance, so you’ll get the second paragraph next week!
I have to twist my lips into an ironic smile because I’m busy. I have several jobs and a host of inconvenient life moments that seem to crop up constantly. The latest inconvenience is my knock down, drag out fight with insecurity. I’m always trying to make people happy, avoid confrontation, look normal, and achieve coveted success. I live by a list of rules and to do lists in order to achieve these goals and eradicate insecurity.
I’m human, therefore I make mistakes. I was created unique therefore normal doesn’t exist. Other people’s God-given tasks were not given to me, therefore they won’t work for me. So why is it so important that I focus solely on God’s requirements for me?
As I pragmatically deconstructed my insecurity I was left with an interesting conclusion. His requirements release me from my heavy, restrictive rules. I become highly productive. I feel fulfilled. I suddenly have time to be and listen. And that time fuels me as an artist. It gives me strength to create.
For anyone with a calling (which is everyone) listening gives fuel, inspiration, direction, and strength. It is in this time that we are able to translate the language of eternal into human.
To be and to listen goes against the grain. It is an act of surrender when I’m faced with the choice of doing and speaking. I feel safer in control, but the grip of my control forces God out and makes me the ‘god’ instead. When I’m in control I forget for a moment that my control is an illusion. Having no control terrifies me. Ironically, it’s in God’s quiet voice that I’ve found the most stability, peace, and strength, more than I could ever generate on my own.
It’s even more important in the face of great personal tragedy or national tragedy like the Boston bombings, that I want, need, to deliberately take time to be and listen. Tragedy and death always bring the biggest questions to the surface and leave me uncomfortable and unstable.
To be and to listen isn’t a trite aphorism with a showy words and a weak grip. In times of great confusion and pain, it’s a very courageous act. Often I forget this and believe my striving is more courageous and needed.
Do you find time to be and to listen? Does it change your perspective? I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’ve learned!