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alisteningwomanLast winter we decided to offer a series on Mindfulness at the Sophia Center because it seemed that this concept was being talked about in many circles and there were many ways to go about presenting it. We decided on five sessions during which we would explain and then offer examples of a different “mindfulness practice” each week. The topics were diverse: chanting from several traditions, Buddhist meditation practices, centering prayer, etc. and each of them touched somehow on a more quiet approach to life. The series was one of the best-attended efforts of the year so we have decided to continue our exploration of mindfulness. For a number of reasons we chose the topic Hearing With the Heart for this year’s series. It is our hope that we will come to understand more deeply the concept and practice of contemplative listening and contemplative dialogue as we explore hearing and speaking out of spacious silence.

I am the first presenter and have found it quite difficult to organize my thoughts on the subject of “Listening as a Sacred Art” because – ironically – there is so much to say! It seems that in our fast-paced world we have (more or less) lost the capacity to listen well. Take a look at most of the commercials on television or consider that now studies show a 5-second attention span in our youth. (I actually heard that in a report this week!)

I’m running out of preparation time for my presentation so I smiled when I read this morning’s lectionary selection of Psalm 130. I am now thinking it is a perfect lead-in to the entire event. See if you agree.

My whole being waits for you, my God, listening in your presence. I long to hear your voice again, speaking. So like a watchman who anticipates the crack of dawn, my heart waits for the first-light of your word. Listen, listen, wait in silence listening for the One from whom all mercy flows…(Ancient Songs Sung Anew, p. 334)