Desert Day 10: Desert Listening …

Their words and names echo through the centuries and fall on our ears with the haunting, foreign ring of oriental temple bells: Abba Anthony, Amma Syncletica, Abba Marcarius, Abba Poemen. Yet these fathers and mothers of the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria are our own Christian spiritual forebears.

If we listen carefully to their words, words uttered over fifteen centuries ago, we learn that these desert dwelling ascetics were engaged in a life of intense listening.  They were zealous disciples of Christ who had left the “world” which formed people in its own image of power, self-aggrandizement, greed, lust, and luxury and had fled to the desert to be formed in the image of Christ, to die to themselves and thus become persons of charity, humility, compassion, and continual prayer. Their practice was fiercely ascetic, their disciplines many. But at the core of their life was the practice of silent listening. Only in the stillness of ta single focused attention, they felt, could they sift through the myriad, conflicting voices that crowd the human heart. Only in the solitude and silence of the wilderness, they believed could they discern the voice of God.

The harsh ascetic impulse of these early Christians may be far from the spiritual needs of twentieth-century North America, but the quest for intentional listening is not. We too urgently need to ferret out the still small whisper of divine prompting that so easily gets submerged in the rowdy chorus of voices that clamor for our attention in each day’s busyness. We all need to be able to listen deeply; to listen with a tender, yielding heart; to listen adventurously enough to be utterly surprised at what we hear. We all need, in one way or another, at one time or another, to enter the desert and listen there mutely, intently for God.
— Wendy M. Wright from Communion, Community, Commonweal: Readings for Spiritual Leadership (Desert Listening)

Blessing 6 & 7

That you may know your life
as a sacred text.
That God will lead you
to read your story anew.
That you may see how the holy
inhabits each line
and breathes across
every page.

May you travel well
across the sacred words
that surround you.
May you be open of heart,
of mind, of spirit
to receive their surprises,
their treasures untold.
— Jan L. Richardson from In the Sanctuary of Women

Blessing 11

When you come
to the depth of your thirst—
its dryness, its dust;
when you arrive at the far reaches
of a desert within,
may the God of the wilderness
bring forth a well;
may you open wide to the drenching
of the water of life.
— Jan L. Richardson from In the Sanctuary of Women

Blessing 2

May you know the presence
of those who have passed
through the desert before you.
May they point the way
toward freedom
and sustain you
with their stories.
In the wilderness,
may there be wellsprings.
May there be wings.
— Jan L. Richardson from In the Sanctuary of Women

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