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asheepLast night I took a chance and left my bedroom window open. Because the day had actually been warm enough to make me believe that spring had finally arrived, I thought that the fresh air would be worth the gamble on my being warm enough all night. Not only did I win that bet with myself but I didn’t need my alarm to wake me up this morning because the birds were busy very early and there was one outside with a big voice that sounded like a repetitive wake-up call. As I settled in with my coffee, I said aloud, “I don’t know who you are but I appreciate your call to slide me back from dreamland to this day.”

There it is again: hearing a voice – this time not one I recognize, but I’d be happy to be introduced to the bird it belongs to. This theme of sound recognition has been with me since my Saturday retreat and keeps calling me to pay attention. It wasn’t surprising then as I turned to the Scriptures of the day and found Jesus speaking of himself as the shepherd whose sheep hear his voice and follow him because they recognize his voice.

Juxtaposed with that gospel this morning is Psalm 42, a psalm of great longing for God. As the deer longs for running streams, so my soul longs for you, O God! Athirst is my soul for God, the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God? Even here in the great desire to see God’s face there is the undercurrent of listening. I imagine native peoples walking through the woods as quietly as possible, listening for running water that they might slake their thirst (and avoid confrontation with danger, of course!).

Today, then, I hope to dedicate myself to listening intently – but also in a relaxed mode, not forcing anything – so that I may hear messages hidden in everyday events and conversations, insights shared in my spiritual practices group this afternoon or tones of voice in our chanting that lift my heart…In other words, I hope to stay awake all day to the longing for God that rises not only from my visual world but also from the sound of God’s voice everywhere present within and without.