Deep listening from the heart
The theme for this silent Sunday is deep listening from the heart. I invite you to open your hearts as we journey together, with the music, readings, quiet prayer and reflections to guide us through this theme.
Open my heart, open my heart
Time: 20 minutes
Centering prayer / meditation:
I invite you to open your hearts in a time of prayer (you can choose between a guided time of prayer and a 20 minute time of simple silence below). If you find your mind wandering, gently let go of your thoughts and return to silence, to being present, to awareness of your breath or your sacred word.
Listen to the following music as an ending to the time of prayer:
Let me hear, let me hear
What you will say
When I turn to you
In my heart
Read the following readings through twice or three times, with an attitude of open receptivity. Listen for any words that call out to you, or that draw you into the sacredness of silence.
Reading 1: Psalm 85:8-12
Listen, O people, in the silent chapel of your heart;
and the Beloved will speak of peace to you,
to the seekers of sacredness, to all who turn your hearts to Love.
Surely new life is at hand for those who reverence Love;
O, that harmony might dwell among the nations.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will embrace one another.
Flowers of faithfulness and wisdom will spring up from the ground
and radiant truth will look down from the sky.
The Eternal Giver grants gentle rain and nourishment,
and the soil of the earth responds in joyful generosity.
Mercy and compassion are Love's way,
and will guide our footsteps upon the path of peace.
~ Based on Psalms for Praying by Nan Merrill
Listen. Be so empty that nothing but God is left. …
Your love has brought us to this silence, where the only obligation is to walk slowly through a meadow and look.
Meditation walk: Looking from your heart
Take a walk, and try to look from your heart centre.
If it helps, you could hold a camera (or an imaginary camera) at your heart and take photographs from this perspective.
You could also picture dropping the walls around your heart and inviting in whatever you perceive, allowing the Beloved to dance across your wide open inner terrain in surprising and unexpected ways.
How does your perspective change from this vantage point of your open heart?
Do you notice any hesitance, fear of resistance to such openness? Be gentle with yourself and don't rush this. Try this as an ongoing practice, setting a pace that feels manageable for you.
“When you’re thinking about what to do, you don’t have enough attention left to see what’s around you. Ordinary things, when really seen, make extraordinary photographs. Such photos seem to make themselves. They seem like presents that we’re given.” ~ Howard Zehr
Practice: Listening to others from your heart
During this next week, when you have a conversation with somebody, try to listen to them from your heart.
Allow yourself to wonder what life must be like for them, and see if this shifts your attitude in any way.
“Deep listening is an act of surrender. We risk being changed by what we hear.” ~ Valerie Kaur
For Further Reflection:
I encourage you to spend some time in further reflection on this theme. Below are some of the quotes from the talk and additional quotes for you to take this theme further.
“…in living a spiritual life, we are challenged to discover another way of seeing, rather than seeing with our usual images, ideals and hopes. We learn to see with the heart, which loves, rather than with the mind, which compares and defines.”
“I refuse to let anyone belittle my soul, or diminish my own expansive sense of self. The more I listen, the less I hate. The less I hate, the more I am free to choose actions that are controlled not by animosity but by wisdom.” …
“Deep listening is an act of surrender. We risk being changed by what we hear.”
“It is a privilege just to listen. And there is a fine distinction between "listen to" and "to listen." When we "listen to" we are actively engaging our senses of sound for a particular audible cue. But, when we choose "to listen," we are opening ourselves up to the sounds of silence and solitude; to ways and words unanticipated, unscripted and often—unfamiliar.”
"the more deeply you learn to listen, the greater the surprises and discoveries that will unfold"
"In spite of all the scary things that can and do happen, we can let down our guard. We can open the gate of our heart to discover not a threatening force to overtake us, but a love that longs to have its way with us and set us free."
Radiant Christ, Essence of Jesus,
help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go;
flood my heart with your Spirit and Life.
Liberate and interweave through my whole being so utterly
that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my heart.
Let me praise you in the way you love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach you without preaching,
not by words but by a listening presence,
by the sympathetic influence of all that I do,
and by the evident fullness of the love that my heart bears toward you,
~ Based on a prayer by Fran Bennet
The crooked line beneath the paint
From faraway it looks straight
Where practiced hands betray a shake
That's where the beauty is
The mark upon your skin revealed
Where injury and pain were sealed
But a scar’s the place where you were healed
That's where the beauty is
Walk with me and hold my hand
There's so much we don't understand
The shattered pieces of a bowl
Filled and fused with dust and gold
in brokenness we are whole
That's where the beauty is
walk with me and hold my hand
there's so much we won't understand
All that's buried in your heart
The cold and lonely, hopeless part
Dig down deeper and find the spark
that's where the beauty is
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Sharon's book that was previously called "Contemplative Living" has been republished by AnamChara Books under the title "Deeper: Finding the Depth Dimension Beneath the Surface of Life". The Kindle version is available from Amazon, and the hard copy version can be ordered from loot.co.za or Takealot, or from your local bookshop through Ingram Distribution.