I’m sitting here thinking, and the only reason I’m writing what I’m thinking about is that the newsletter is ready, except for my few paragraphs. Gail is in her office, waiting on my column in her usual patient, good-humored way, while I sit here thinking about how we talk and listen to each other, and how we pray.
What started me down this road was a few minutes of reflecting on the two Sundays of fireside chats, the Lenten Wednesdays of wilderness wanderings, and the prayers of the people in our weekly worship.
The Psalm for this Sunday is one of my favorites, for it expresses the longing of the human soul: “O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you.” I think this same kind of soul-longing is present when we gather for conversation as we did during the fireside chats; when we share our stories and as we listen to the more-than-usual-depth of sharing in wilderness wanderings; and when we clear a space and breathe more deeply than usual, and enter the Great Quiet of God in the communion of prayer in the middle of our worship on Sunday mornings.
Our souls want to breathe, they want to be heard in a way that social chit-chat can never allow, and there is in each of us a deep desire to listen, although our busyness and anxiety often stand in the way of true listening. Casual conversation, inattentive listening, and the kind of talking that helps us stay hidden from each other are about as nutritious and satisfying as cotton candy.
Like the Psalmist, our souls thirst! There are ways of being church to each other, of participating together in Beloved Community, that are more soulful. There are ways for all of us to have our turn, to know ourselves better by telling our truth to others, to experience the joy of speaking and listening that are far more fulfilling. It is a movement from intellect and ego to soulfulness, and I believe that we’re hungry and thirsty for that…and so are a lot of others.
Fireside chats, wilderness wanderings, and the prayers of the people point us in that direction, and it’s a very good direction.