What do you need to hear?

My wife and I recently spent a day at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth.  In the permanent collection is what may well be Michelangelo’s earliest painting, “The Torment of St. Anthony” — a vivid portrayal of St. Anthony’s struggle with temptation in the desert.  It got me thinking…

Our inner lives are too small.

They are cluttered with the kind of distractions that they sell in tourist traps — pot metal and plastic, cheap construction, loud colors — here today, gone tomorrow, about to be replaced by more of the same.

And when our inner lives are not made small by the countless distractions that clutter them, then our inner lives are often crowded with fears — large and small, biting at our necks, pulling at our sleeves — like St. Anthony’s tormentors in Michelangelo’s painting.

What a shame — because God’s gentle, quiet, open invitation is to listen and respond.  What are the deepest needs of your soul? What do you need to hear?  What kind of clutter keeps you from hearing it?

About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an academic and an Episcopal priest), live in Highland Park, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and four grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, and Sophie.


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