Reflection:
Deep Listening

Good morning, friends.

I hope that you are all keeping well in body, mind and spirit in your various places of isolation. I know some of you are more busy than ever as you try to keep work going using zoom and other online platforms, while others might be feeling antsy or lonely with all this time and nowhere to go. I know some are relishing the chance for an extended retreat, especially us introverts.

 

Whether we choose it or not, this time is an opportunity for us to engage in more times of quiet and prayer than in our usual moving-about lives, and in this sense it could be an unparalleled time of inner enrichment. To make the most of this opportunity for a deep dive into quiet prayer, I want to look at the theme of deep listening today.

 

To begin with, I invite you to listen to the following piece of music which is an invitation to become quiet and receptive to God's presence.

In the waitingMatt Redman
00:00 / 04:11

Lyrics - In the waiting

I cultivate a quiet place
Within this life of mine
I come to wait before the One
Who knows my heart's desire
In the stillness I have come
To wait before You God

And I find You in the waiting
And I find You in the waiting
You remind me in the stillness
To know You are God


 

 

You heard my cry so long before

I ever spoke a word

You knew my name so long before

The heavens touched the earth

In the stillness I have come

To wait before You God

And I find You in the waiting
And I find You in the waiting
You remind me in the stillness
To know You are God

 

Below is the scripture passage that we will be reflecting on today, which tells the story of Elijah and the still small voice. Spend some time reading it slowly and meditatively, listening for anything that particularly stands out for you. You could also use your imagination to get into one of the characters of the story, or to visualise the scenario in detail.

 

1 Kings 19:1‭-‬15 

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” 

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “

I have had enough, Lord ,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”

He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”

So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord , for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord , but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a still small voice. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 

The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus...."

At this point God went on to give Elijah various instructions of who anoint, including his successor Elisha.

In the following video I share some of my reflections on this text, with an emphasis on deep listening for the still small voice.

Introduction to the mornign retreat
Talk with guided listening

Listen to the following song by David Kauffman, called Be still my love:

Be still my loveDavid Kauffman
00:00 / 05:05

The following poem was written by Brother Richard Hendrick, a Capuchin Fransiscan from Ireland. As you read the poem slowly, listen to the following piece of music at the same time:

 

 

Breathe, Be, Love

 

Between Moonset and Sunrise,

Between High Tide and Low Tide,

Between In-breath and Out-breath,

there is a moment to touch balance,

there is a moment to touch stillness,

there is a moment to touch infinitude;

and in that moment,

there is spaciousness,

there is freedom,

there is peace,

there is the awareness,

that all arises from Love,

that all abides in Love,

that all reveals Love,

that all that is

receives being

from Love.

Be

still

and

you

will

know.

Calm at lastUna Luna
00:00 / 03:05

As an ending prayer, read a paraphrase of Psalm 46:

Psalms for Praying

Nan C. Merrill   

 

The Beloved is our refuge and our strength, 

a loving Presence in times of trouble. 

Therefore we will not fear though

the earth should change, 

though the mountains shake in the 

heart of the sea; 

Though the waters roar and foam, 

though the mountains tremble 

with its tumult. 

  

There is a river whose streams 

make glad the Holy City, 

the holy habitation of the Most High. 

The Beloved is in the midst of it, 

it shall not be moved; 

Our loving Creator is an 

ever-present help. 

The nations may be at war, 

countries left in ruin, 

yet is the Voice of the Almighty heard, 

melting hearts of stone. 

The Beloved is with us, 

the infinite Heart of Love.  

  

Come, behold the works of the Beloved, 

how love does reign even in 

humanity's desolation. 

For the Beloved makes wars to cease, 

breaking the barriers of fear; 

shattering the greedy and oppressors, 

refining hearts of iron.

"Be still and know that I am Love. 

I am exalted among the nations, 

I am exalted in the earth!" 

The One who knows all hearts is with us; 

The Beloved is our refuge and our strength.

Amen

As an ending song, listen to the following short song by Tim Hughes, called The Beauty of Your Peace:

Beauty of Your PeaceTim Hughes
00:00 / 01:39

Lyrics - The Beauty of Your Peace

Your voice has stilled the raging storms
The wind and waves bow down before
Your still small voice brings hope to all
Who wait on You, we'll wait for You
To lead us to the place where You'll restore our souls
And all our earthly strivings come to cease

Take from our souls the strain and stress
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Your peace
The beauty of Your peace

 

 

Bright skies will soon be overhead
We'll enter in to Heaven's rest
There'll be no death, there'll be no pain
The things of old will pass away
You'll lead us to the place where You'll restore our souls
And all our earthly strivings come to cease

Take from our souls the strain and stress
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Your peace
The beauty of Your peace

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