Sometimes we meet with someone who seems unwilling to listen to us. In fact, if we review a week, we probably can populate the week with many instances of “unwillingness” in others to respond to our messages and requests.
However, how about our own willingness to listen to others, hear what they have to say, respond with more than an “automatic” negative or counter response. Conclusions which affirm an existing disposition or opinion on something are often there are the ready. The more we use them, the firmer our position becomes on a specific item, and we gradually morph into a walking set of conclusions and opinions; ready to engulf others at a moment’s notice. OK; I am exaggerating a little bit here, but I can always feel myself moving into this territory, particularly when I am threatened or challenged on something.
Recently, it became obvious the relationship between our unwillingness to listen to others and our prayer life. I was reading a book by Cynthia Bourgeault, where she notes the following on Spiritual Transformation regardless of the prayer path you might take. Here she talks specifically on contemplative prayer, but can imagine with works for all prayer forms.
“the recipe for spiritual transformation is basically the same all over: surrender, attention, compassion. One way or another, you will pass through the same eye of the needle no matter what path you’re on.”
This first step is surrender. And surrender means to be listening and open to God during the prayer period. If we can relate to these steps in all prayer, then does it not also apply in our everyday lives? Of course it does, but it’s also easy to separate our “everyday life” from our prayer life. Even if this is the wrong thing to do.
We are informed in so many ways in scripture and prayers to focus on “Thy Will Be Done” and yet, we still begin with our opinion being the one that matters. We have to surrender to God’s will fully in order to have an intention within our prayers, and this also means listening to others before we decide what the response should be.
So, this week, I will make an effort to listen first, to surrender to God as the first part of my prayer life and try and integrate the two practices. Just to listen to His words, often softy spoken through others.
An Unwilling Mind
Unwilling to listen,
And unwilling to hear.
Unwilling to learn,
Or listen to facts.
Unwilling to research,
And therefore, to analyze.
Unwilling to move,
A mind or a heart.
A sadness which precludes anger.
Let us undo unwillingness,
And see the curtain open; revealing the light of a day.