We’re all living with social distance and physical distance these days. Have you ever heard of ‘listening distance’? What will allow me to listen to someone, to something, to listen well and absorb what I hear.
This week a friend reminded me of a poem by R. S. Thomas that describes our listening distance in relation to God. The distance isn’t a physical one, but rather a soul quality. How still can I be? How much can I retire from my cocktail party mind, into the quiet room within me where I can hear God breathe?
But the silence in the mind
is when we live best, within
listening distance of the silence we call God…
It is a presence, then,
whose margins are our margins; that calls us out over our
I know social distancing practices of two meters of separation and hand washing, but what are my listening distance practices?
For me, some of the best ways into interior silence are through slowing down activities and meditation. I know I’m able to be still within while I’m busy working or engaging with people. That’s an essential bit of life to learn. Yet I know too when I slow my exterior activity, such as in this stay-at-home time, my mind begins to relax, and I can more easily access a listening distance. The best for me is when I do retreat, pull back from all commitments and responsibilities and relationships and be still in solitude. Those are wonderful listening times for me. I feel so embraced by Love. I know I want to live in that warm embrace of interior stillness within the fullness of normal daily life. I always want to be in listening distance with God.
My daily meditation practice has taught me to observe my mind, watch it running around, asking questions, looking for answers, passing judgments. It’s relentlessly busy. I know there is so much more to me than my mind. My real self, True Self, is in the quietness within me, the part that lives in listening distance with God, the part that can hear Divine whispers. It is gentle, compassionate and seeks peace. It is also strong and resourceful for there, I’m in touch with the fullness of Christ within.
I can always add in some time in nature for that helps too! But even there, I must be attentive to my surroundings, not engaged in a podcast or organizing the world or people around me.
What does it mean for you to live within listening distance of God? What disrupts you from hearing God’s whispers? What helps you?
May we all be gentle with ourselves and those around us this week.
Love and prayers
Mystic in Motion
Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire
Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder