My grandfather used to call me his “little motor mouth” when I was a child. I think Jesus might call me that, too, even now. The problem is that when we spend so much time talking in any relationship, it leaves no room for listening. When we’re not listening, we can get disconnected from this amazing life unfolding all around us.
And this is why, when my mom called me the other night and innocently asked, “What does the voice of God sound like?” I completely missed it. As I started to share that God’s voice is in the words of the people we come across in our day, in those “Aha!” moments, and in the beauty of creation, I realized God’s voice was in this phone call itself—reminding me to listen to that voice hidden within the moments of my days.
Clearly St. Ignatius understood the importance of listening. In the Spiritual Exercises, not once does Ignatius instruct the retreatant to take the podium and have a one-sided talk with God. Instead we let God speak to us through meditation or contemplation, or in reviewing our day with God in the Examen. Ignatius puts great emphasis on listening to the voice of God in all that happens around us and in the stirrings of our hearts. It’s that listening exercise inherent in the Examen that allows us to stay connected with the world around us and equips us with the awareness needed to be contemplatives in action.
Two great examples of listeners that we can look to are Jesus’ parents. Mary and Joseph recognized God’s voice in angels, in dreams, and in pondering. They spent more time listening than talking—a lesson I can learn! Mary is described as pondering things in her heart, and Joseph never speaks; he simply listens with an open heart. We have Jesus in part because Mary and Joseph listened and heard God’s voice.
This week, the voice of God sounded like my mom on the phone, calling me to tune in a little more to those precious moments in my day when God speaks. Speak, Lord, your servant is listening now.