Does God really talk to us? I remember being asked that question of a potential suitor many years ago, and when I responded, yes — and that I also talked back to God — our relationship ended quite quickly. Fortunately, I moved on to find other men (and women!) who appreciated the question a bit more and even found it worthy of lengthy conversation and study. In the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program at San Francisco Theological Seminary, an entire three-week course is taught on the Art of Contemplative Listening, exploring how to tune in to the voice of the Holy in our lives.
So this is the question we posed this week in our What Do I Really Believe? series at Patheos: Does God Really Talk to Us? Here’s one of my favorite responses, from blogger and spiritual director Christine Valters Paintner:
My daily prayer is a posture of deep listening. In the ancient monastic practice of lectio divina, the desert monks, and later the Benedictines, believed that the texts of the scriptures were alive and shimmering with words God speaks to each of us directly in this moment of our lives. The underlying assumption of lectio is that the whole world is, in fact, a “text” of sacred revelation. All experience has the potential to be revelatory and God is singing one unending song seducing each of our hearts. And so the call is to listen; the practice is to attune myself to the words God utters into the world.
The way God speaks is not linear, however. It does not lend itself easily to a world used to sound bytes or determined to analyze its usefulness. God’s voice is the language of dreams and landscapes, of art and music, of dancing and poetry.
Each morning I go on a long walk among the trees in a nearby park. This is a form of lectio divina I practice where nature is the sacred text revealing holy wonders to my heart. I move across the silence of grass, by the autumn explosion of dahlias, and the lush and extravagant gesture of ferns. If I listen closely I can hear the steady hum of trees breathing, a song of adoration whispered from outstretched branches. I am invited to join my own voice to this choir and sing a holy yes to what I hear.
In moments of simple kindness and compassion, in the quiet knowing of my heart’s desires, in the profound impulse toward life in every moment, even in my weeping which witnesses to my capacity for great love, I don’t ask if God is speaking. I ask if there can be any place void of this sacred song.
Read more from: Does God Really Talk to Us?
Christine Valters Paintner is the online Abbess of Abbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery without walls offering classes and resources on contemplative practice and creative expression.