Writing prompts helps us to listen to our lives.
Listening Practices are about listening to our lives and to what the Divine is saying to us in the midst of our everyday lives. Writing prompts, journalling, and conversation are a significant way to do this.
Practices of Listening can be like the reading practices that we often record to share. Those Listening Practices often include a piece of sacred text, attention to a word or a phrase, and listening for an invitation to do, be or become. For more information you could read about formal Listening Practices or Lectio Divina here.
Even more broadly though, Listening Practices are about being present in this moment, noticing what is happening in our experience and our emotions, and letting God speak to us, here and now.
The following entry is from my writing practice today. It expresses my raw feelings, the interplay with some physical details I am noticing around me, and a conversation that took place in the sacred space of prayerful imagination. The entry begins as a response to the writing prompt, “Write what you see…”
Have you ever written out your prayer conversation with God?
What do you notice in your physical environment that might lead you toward connection with what matters most to you?
What do you hear the Divine Family speak to you as you dialogue?
18 October 2020 12:05 p.m.
The final five crimson leaves hang at the top of the tiny amur maple in the backyard.
It’s a small tree, freshly transplanted this fall from the space between our fence and the neighbour’s garage. It started its growth in that narrow, between space, with hardly any moisture, hardly any sunlight. Just a seed, some soil, plucky determinedness, and the blessing of the Divine Family.
Today, it looks both pathetic and brave, like it is waving a flag for all of the people out there who are just barely hanging on.
I feel like I am just barely hanging on. Tears fill my eyes too often right now. I catch myself in an internal fight with the accusatory, judgmental critic who looks at my history and says I made all the wrong choices and that is what has gotten me to this moment of what I fear will be humiliation and defeat.
How did I get to the place where I listen for your voice Spirit,
and what I hear is,
i’m working on a break through
but what I feel like I need is intervention, a miracle?
Or is this current situation the result of decisions I’ve made along the way? Wrong decisions? Decisions that have led me down a garden path where I focused on the call I thought I was hearing.
You, Spirit, have over and over called me to be your person. Sometimes I feel like it’s been a pathway of pain.
A pathway of patience.
A pathway of waiting.
A pathway of fortitude.
A pathway of compassion.
A pathway of beauty.
A pathway of growth.
A pathway of listening.
At times it has been a pathway of delight.
Did I take the wrong fork in the road?
Was it the decision to stay with spiritual care, when maybe I should have ventured off into management or into policy work?
Was it that choice where I could have picked science and instead followed the pathway into formation, theology, and developing people in their ability to lead lives of relationship in their own homes, and have a healed relationship with what is divine inside themselves, and with the Divine outside themselves?
Was it the choice to come back to Saskatchewan when Vancouver or Toronto or Calgary called?
Was it that moment this past week where we chose to go to a second, further away grocery store and pick up some of the supplies that we only get from time to time?
Or maybe the moment Saturday morning after “Writing Down the Bones” group when I reached just a little too far without engaging my core and hurt the part of my back that cries out on account of the sloppy ligaments in my hips?
The part of me that is still healing from broken images of you, Divine Family, says that my choices have sucked, and this is the punishment I deserve for living so day to day, so extravagent, so laissez-faire. “You keep on saying, ‘God will provide’ and God has gotten you out of a thousand scrapes so far, but who’s to say that it’s God’s responsibility to get you out of this scrape this time.”
So, I sink down deep to the part of me that knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she’s loved, that she is provided for from before the beginning of time, that this moment in this uncomfortable-in-between space is not the final reality.
What does the Spirit say here, in the Beloved space, the we’re-about-to-be-swept-up-in-resurrection space?
I love you.
There is hope that’s worth finding, unearthing.
And I know that even though it’s been years upon years of living from this liminal space, and you feel like you should be more grounded and steady, it’s okay to feel like a little child afraid of the dark.
I’m offering you hope in the hard time.
I’m staying with you in the darkness.
We’ll come through it, together.
I want to stay here in the womb of warmth. It feels a little like hiding in a fortress made from a fortrel quilt, all texture, colour, shape and fabric that wears like iron.
Spirit, can you wrap me up here and let me be safe with you?
Is it okay for me to escape from the space of uncertainty for a while and just hang out with you here?
Be with me.
Let me be with you.
Here’s good, nourishing food.
Here’s the warmth of a home.
Here’s the support of a community, and a family.
I am the life-giving Spirit, your mother, and I’ll never leave you to sort this out alone.
No matter what, I’m not going back on my promise to always be with you, to always love you.
You have, with faith, paid your bills every month of the pandemic, and every month in the ten and a half years since I called you away from the security of the work that was taking you away from your children, away from me.
You have, with faith, provided a home and a vehicle for your family.
You have, with faith, offered your children a life with bicycles, music lessons, and the healthy rhythm of rest and playfulness.
You have, with faith, stood with Reade in relationship and in prayer.
You have, with faith, built relationships with those who have come before you, offering them forgiveness and kindness when what they expected was accusations and brokenness.
You have, with faith, done the work that I have asked you to do each day — listening for my leading, sharing the Psalms, comforting the anxious, tending the spiritual seeker, walking thousands of steps with the elderly, hearing the cries of those maturing in relationship, companioning the ones moving from fear to faith, writing and editing, speaking and loving.
I will pay your bills, again, and I will make the margin that you need for a life that shows that the Divine Family care for their beloved children.
Just wait with us another moment.
Watch for the sunlight of our love to dawn again.
Feel our love wrapping around you like your grandmother’s quilt.
Here, there is warmth, protection, provision and reprieve.
Here, there is hope.
In the abundance that comes next, share the glory of our goodness and reputation with the world, and wave the flags of amur maple leaves that say we love you, we are blessing you, and we are waiting, compassionately, to bless everyone else too. In the narrow spaces, we are nurturing growth and beauty for all to live.
Okay, Divine Mother. I wait, we wait, on you. You are our safe space, our provision, our promise, our hope. You are all we have. We listen for your invitation. And at the same time we shout the truth that you’ve been our hiding place all along. You have been so good to us.
I’m waving a flag made of amur maple leaves on a cold autumn day. I’m wrapped in the quilt of your love fashioned by my grandmother.