I’ve recently been reminded of the importance of listening.
I’ve done a lot of talking lately: leading the Pagan Tent Revival at the Spring Equinox, being the primary ritualist for the multi-group Beltane celebration, co-writing the CUUPS Egyptian Summer Solstice ritual, co-writing the funeral ritual for James Stevens, speaking at First Jefferson UU last Sunday, and doing some work on an upcoming sermon for DUUF based on The Case For God.
It’s good work and I enjoy it, but between the time requirements and the talking mindset, I haven’t been doing a lot of listening. The talking mindset has bled over into my daily spiritual practice: I’ve been talking to my gods, offering my thanks and expressing my affection and my needs, but I haven’t been giving them much of a chance to answer. That’s never good.
The first step in the right direction came last week when out of the blue I decided to start listening to Thorn Coyle’s Elemental Castings podcasts on my morning commute and exercise. At the time I said it was because sports radio this time of year is pretty dull (in the middle of baseball season, but not much else going on) and because someone kept turning the gym radio on the “golden oldies” station (if the music is older than I am I can’t work out to it!). But now I’m not so sure that idea was entirely mine…
Yesterday morning I was listening to one of the podcasts when the subject of meditation came up – it was like they were talking directly to me. And I heard a voice (no, not literally, but it might as well have been) say “Yes, you speak nicely. Now will you shut up and listen for a while?”
And so last night I sat in silence for the first time in several weeks. It was good. Not easy, but good.
It’s difficult for me to sit quietly, especially after a stressful day at work… or, for that matter, after a fulfilling but busy day doing things I enjoy. But I think that just points to the necessity of learning to quiet the mind.
One night down, many many more to go.