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Presence and listening

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In this reflection we will explore the theme of presence and deep listening, to one another, to ourselves and to God, through the interweaving of a talk with music, readings and guided prayer.

Before listening to the opening music, spend a few minutes listening to the sounds around you, becoming present wherever you are joining us from. 

"All that is needed for wholeness, for freedom, is in the now", as Richard Rohr says.  

Then, when you are ready, listen to this opening piece of music with the same sense of listening presence and attentiveness.

Opening music:

Listen to the following piece of music as an opening prayer.

Pange Lingua GloriosiDan Gibson
00:00 / 06:10

Reflection Talk:

Talk length: 14 minutes

Sacred Reading:

Read the following readings through twice or three times, with an attitude of open receptivity. Allow a few minutes of silence between the readings. Listen for any words that call out to you, or that draw you into the sacredness of silence that is deeper than your usual knowing:

Reading 1: Isaiah 55:1

"Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live."

Reading 2: Psalm 116:8-9 (adapted from Psalms for Praying, by Nan Merrill)

Return, O my soul, to your rest;

for You, O Loving Companion Presence, bestow grace upon grace,

a balm for my soul.

You raise me up to new life;

You dry my tears, and guide my feet, step by step.

Now, I walk hand in hand with Love in the land of the awakened ones.

Quiet prayer 

I invite you into a time of prayer, using this guided prayer for deep listening presence.

Quiet listening presence
00:00 / 09:56

End the time of quiet prayer by listening to the following song:

AbideCarrie Newcomer
00:00 / 04:14


I will bring a cup of water. here's the best that I can offer

In the dusk of coming night, there is evidence of light

with the pattering of rain, let us bow as if in grace

consider all the ways we heal, and how a heart can break.

Oh abide with me, where it's breathless and it's empty

Yes, abide with me and we'll pass the evening gently

Stay awake with me and we'll listen more intently

to something wordless and remaining, sure and ever changing

In the quietness of now.

Let us ponder the unknown, What is hidden and what is whole

and finally learn to travel at the speed of our own souls

there is living water, a spirit cutting through

always changing always making, all things new

Oh, abide with me, where it's breathless and it's empty

yes, abide with me and we'll pass the evening gently

stay awake with me and we'll listen more intently

to something wordless and remaining sure and ever changing

in the quietness of now.

There are things I cannot prove, and still some how I know

It's like a message in a bottle that some unseen hand has thrown

you don't have to be afraid, you don't have to walk alone

I don't know but I suspect, that it will feel. like home.

Practice: Deep listening to others

During this next week, when you have a conversation with somebody, try to listen to them without trying to fix or change them in any way, and without thinking about what you will say after they finish speaking. Allow yourself to simply be a non-judgmental, gentle listening presence. 

For Further Reflection:

Below are quotes from the talk and some additional quotes for you to take this theme further.

The Centre for Action and Contemplation describes that “Contemplation is the practice of being fully present—in heart, mind, and body—to what is, in a way that deepens awareness, encourages oneness, and strengthens compassion.”

Proverbs 18:13: "To answer before listening—that is folly and shame."

"We must listen to what is supporting us.

We must listen to what is encouraging us.

We must listen to what is urging us.

We must listen to what is alive in us. ...

If we can trust and listen to our inner divine image, our whole-making instinct, or our True Self, we will act from our best, largest, kindest, most inclusive self. ... God never leads by guilt or shame! God leads by loving the soul at ever-deeper levels" - Richard Rohr

"God is the open, receptive ground of everything—all life, all death, all joy, all suffering, all that appears as sacred and divine, all that appears as limited and human." - David Frenette

"The beauty of the vocation of listening to others is perhaps possible because we needed to be listened to ourselves, because we ourselves understood what it meant not to be listened to. The gift of listening is found in very many people - many women and men, as they get older, grasp what is entrusted to them. Being close to others, liberating them, taking the weight off their shoulders, and doing this above all by a listening that opens the road of trust, humble trust: faith. The road of faith is not another road than the one on which, little by little, we realise that faith is a very humble reality, that it doesn't require super-human efforts of us, not at all! But much more an inner attitude of simplicity in order to understand what God has placed within us." - Brother Roger of Taize

"The inherent goodness of reality is not localized somewhere—it is implicit in the fabric of all that exists. ... eventually we come to see that the beauty and wonder of Being is not a something that resides in someone else or even that it is a thing inside of us somewhere, but rather is the nature of everything and so is everywhere.” – Sandra Maitri

"There’s nowhere to go, there’s nothing to accomplish, there’s no merit. It’s just this, just this." - Ram Dass

Ending music:

Abide with meLibera
00:00 / 03:21

I invite you to listen to this last piece of music as a prayer, holding in your heart all those who are helpless and in need of abiding, loving Presence.


Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;

The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide

When other helpers fail and comforts flee

Help of the helpless, O abide with me

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;

Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see;

O Thou who changest not, abide with me

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;

Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness

Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?

I triumph still, if Thou abide with me

Help of the helpless, O abide with me

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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 or Takealot, or from your local bookshop through Ingram Distribution.

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