Learn to listen

The picture above is of a tablecloth. This tablecloth has pairs of feet representing the 42,000 marchers demonstrating for civil rights. Look closely and you can find the shoes of Mrs Rosa Parks. True to form she stands out. She is the only one who did not take her shoes off for them to be traced. So look for the only pair of shoes… and, with Rosa Parks, dare to be different.

Displayed at The Safe House — Black History Museum, Greensboro, Alabama

Grace and peace to you …

Over the last few weeks I have been reading up on the “new monastic movement” slowly growing around the world. One such book is a modern paraphrase of the ancient Rule of Saint Benedict by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

Jonathan writes in the introduction: “In a moment of clarity, Benedict saw that the system of education that had been designed to prepare him for a world that was passing away could only lead to a dead end. While it could teach him what had worked in the past, the system did not have the resources to present a way forward. A different school was needed. Benedict had a hunch that the Desert Mothers and Fathers were creating it. He went to a cave, built himself a prayer cell, and so matriculated in the “university” of the world to come… Benedict decided that we need a school for a new way of life… A school for the Lord’s service… [to help] the world see more clearly what it means to become truly human in the way of Jesus.”

This is what Church is meant to be. A school for a new way of life that sets people free to be truly human in the way of Jesus. The way of Jesus being a way of life that is good news for the poor and which works release for the captives, sight for the blind and freedom for the oppressed. A way of life that is rooted in justice where all people are honoured as precious. A way of life that brings life.

Benedict’s first word in his prologue for his “new-life-school syllabus” was “LISTEN”.

“Listen my child. I want you to place the ear of your heart on the solid ground of the Master’s wisdom… Listening is hard work, but it’s the essential work. It opens you up to the God that you’ve rejected when you have only listened to yourselves. If you’re ready to give up your addiction to yourself, this message is for you: to listen is to equip yourself with the best resources available to serve the real Master, Christ the Lord.”

This word/instruction “Listen” is repeated throughout Benedict’s syllabus. The Jesus way of life that brings life is shaped around learning to listen to God and to other people because “an authentic search for God leads to life with other people”.

This is our task: To learn to listen.

Grace and peace, Alan

Read – Reflect – Renew

In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know,
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess,
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not,
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

~ TS Eliot


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