As I mentioned earlier and posted on the discernment page of this blog, two weekends ago Sr. Margaret and I hosted a Come and See weekend, and a discernment day retreat. 17 young women participated, and I think we all agreed that the Spirit was working powerfully throughout the weekend.
One insight that struck me over the weekend is how amazingly similar discernment and writing are in terms of listening. When I was younger, I used to think I was a really good listener. Now, I know that it is something I want to grow in, because I want to do more than “hear” the words that are being said; I want to listen deeply to God’s heart–how is God speaking to or inviting me in any given moment?
Communication always starts with listening. As a person, but even more as a writer, it’s so human to get caught up in what I want to say or what I think the other person needs to hear, and I forget to truly listen. Jesus often starts his conversations with a question. (The striking question for me this Easter season is his question to Mary Magdalen: “Woman, why are you weeping? Who you are looking for?”) I wonder if this is what Jesus says to me when I walk into the chapel to begin my hour of adoration…but I am so distracted, I don’t hear his words of compassion.
Listening is more than something I want to do well. It’s an attitude I want to live. An interesting note for me as a woman religious: one of the three vows I have made is the vow of obedience, and the word “obedience” comes from the Latin word for “to listen.” The call to write and to communicate includes this call to listening–living with an open heart that’s eager to connect and to discover. Perhaps all writers/communicators would find that making a sacred promise to listen could help us in our calling as artists.