On Ash Wednesday Christians unite to take part in a liturgy that is filled with tension between life and death. In a world that works vigorously to defy and deny death; thousands of people will fill churches the world over to listen to the words “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” spoken over each and every one of them.
These words expand the horizon of our listening beyond daily matters into the whole being of our lives. Like the sound of a ram’s horn calling ancient people to prayer, the reminder of our death quiets the relentless noise of living.
Listening is more than hearing when we are listening for God. The deepest form of listening is not with our ears at all, it is with our heart. We are listening below the noise, under our busy thinking planning minds, and between the words we are hearing and saying.
The Bible says to listen with the ear of the heart.
Often during Lent we are supposed to give up something for forty days, but what if this Lent instead of giving up candy or caffeine you decided to stop and listen to the silent divine one within you and surrounding you. What if this year listening to God is your discipline?
Silence is God’s primary language. And quickly becoming an endangered part of our world. Where once humans had no electricity, no radio, television or internet; now we live among infinite distractions from simple being in silence.
What have we lost? What could the people of God gain if we created space to be in silence each day?
“Wake up before death wakes you up”, the old monk said to the young man.
The life giving ways of God are discovered in silence. Even in ten minutes alone in the quiet, we can find what we need and seldom want; spacious sense of hope, interior strength and resiliency, wisdom beyond information, and peace beyond understanding. The benefits of the practice silence are many; tight conflicts relax, cruel self- talk quiets, endless list making ceases, and the spacious presence of God becomes real.
Silence is a form of dying that awakens us to new life.