This Lent, Listen … and Lead

“To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.” Proverbs 16-17

If age has one benefit, it is the recognition that quiet is a gift to be sought, to appreciate, and to cherish. St. Benedict makes that point clear in the Prologue with his admonition that we are in the world, but not of it. We participate and engage to the extent we must, and, when God places an opportunity before us, we reach out to help, to heal, to simply, listen in the spirit of his other admonition: Listen … .attentively, with the ear of your heart.

Along with the choir section of St. Benedict’s Abbey church, my favorite places for silence and reflection are the Abbey Church sanctuary, and Abbey Point, at the eastern-most part of our campus property.

If you come to campus, if you have not been there, please, ask for directions. It is a beautiful spot for solitude. It is a place for earnest conversation. It’s been the location of a number of marriage proposals. It is a place to listen to what the Lord is saying to us, if we are listening well.

It is concerning to me that, as people of the 21st century, more than a few have chosen  to substitute earbuds and, something I see returning, full sized headphones. That is not creating silence. It’s substitute noise. It is enforced isolation. It is not listening.

I have chronicled in previous writings how the Lord’s decisions on what path I was to take definitely were different from mine. “Why, Lord? Why now? Why this time and place? Why do you ask me to listen attentively to another who needs so much when I feel incapable? Very well, Lord .. Here I am … I come to do Your will. I will listen, and by your direction, I will know what to say.”

I know I cannot solve the problems and issues in my midst this Lent. I probably can’t make headway with those in my midst struggling with difficult decisions. That is not my purpose as a listener today.

But …

I can look and, silently, celebrate the victory for a colleague who, over a series of car ride conversations a couple of years ago, shared much of their doubts and fears, and who now  has listened, acted on God’s word with an open door, and after a period of discovery, love, and joy, confidently prepares for marriage.

She listened, and the path forward in her journey with her young man is full of light.  God is with them. Her journey will be their journey. My small contribution bears fruit: the walking, and listening, was worth every step.

Image: St. Benedict’s Abbey by Randy Grove, Flickr.

Michael Throop