Listening Deeply

Jesus is the Light.  The Illumination.  Awakened.  And also hidden.  The light shines upon us.  Illuminates us.  Awakens us.  Shrouds us in Shadow, but is still there.  This is the time when we know that we are beings of Light, to bring light.  But sometimes, we’re unsure how to be that Light.  

I’ve discovered, uncovered(?), that we usually know what we need to do, but we struggle to do it.  In many cases, we will do anything to avoid “it”.  Maybe we fear it will change everything around us.  Maybe we fear a light will shine on something “big” that will implode everything we know and are comfortable with.  Maybe we fear the change within us.  We fear that changing one thing will change everything.  Maybe we’re afraid we’ll find that we are neglecting what matters most.  That we have purpose and a work to do and we aren’t quite doing it.  

We hide.  We continue to full our lives with loud things.  Busy things.  Distracting things.  We fill our lives with more stuff we don’t need and delightfully sensational things to bring us happiness and fun and distraction.  We turn away from what matters most.  

But isn’t it the things that are most scary and most likely to uncover and change everything the things that are most vital to growing and becoming?  

I’m not sure I can describe “what is the Wilderness?”.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to put into words.  The Wilderness of the Story is even more indescribable and unKnowable.  Part of the Mystery.  I don’t think I’ll even try to put that in words.  Even on our individual level, we each experience and understand the “Wilderness” differently.  The Wild that life throws at us and the Wild we choose to enter.  

The Wilderness is scary.  Even the smallest nugget of the Wilderness.  The Wilderness is meant to awaken us to “scary”.  Starting with…loneliness.  We can’t go together into the Wild.  It’s by its very nature: Solitude.  Silence.  Quiet.  Testing…because it is something we can only do alone.  We’re different. You might fear the solitude.  I might fear the dark.  Together, we don’t face the fears and our Wilds.  And let’s be honest, we’re not fully going into the experience when we’re bringing one another with us.  

But we try to bring company.  Ever notice that?  “Hey, want to give up chocolate for Lent with me?”  “Let’s do this together!!”  “It’ll be fun.”  Company is Comfort.  Company makes it “fun”.  Also…sometimes inadvertently a competition.  And when the Wild is thrust upon us, we so badly want someone with us.  We can’t.  And looking outside in, we want so badly to take away some of the struggle for the one we love.  We can’t.  

We can support one another, but we cannot carry another person’s load.  We can not even take it off of someone when we know they are carrying more than they need to be bearing.  We can’t.  But we can remind ourselves that the 40 days of Lent is a six week experience…reminding us that we are not meant to be alone, in challenge, in the Wilds completely ALONE.  We’re meant to come out for one another and for comfort.  That’s called: Sunday.  

Our personal Wild isn’t a group project.  It’s an internal exploration. What do we learn about ourselves and our trials when we go into the Wild?  It’s about you and the chocolate.  Just you: there’s no: so and so doing better (or worse) than me, I’d better do better (or I can slack off a bit).  There is merit in helping one another, and trying to be there for one another, and helping one another, but the Wile reminds us of the things we must face…alone.  But, again, even if the Wild is alone we can offer the day encouragement and support and we can accept the day to day encouragement.  We can continue to; love as we walk each other home.  

What is the Wild?  Why the Wild?  Why did Jesus enter? John the Baptist?  Really, all the “Greats”, if we think about it, entered the Wild.  Why would we choose to enter the Wild?  PAUSE. 

To test?  To grow?  PAUSE.  To be tempted?  

To Listen.  To learn to deeply Listen.  In that Listening, we nourish our little lights.  

To go into the Wild is to go into a deeply quiet space of solitude.  That place where we can hear the voice that is always there.  

Ever notice we spend a lot of time talking to God and less time listening to or for God?  This Wild creates space for God’s voice to enter.  Often disguised as what we already know to be true, that we truly hear only if we quiet the distractions and move inside.  

Meditation.  Contemplative prayer.  Reflection.  Journaling.  Sitting.  My favorite Quiet is simple to Sit.  No agenda. No “rules”. Just Sit and close my eyes.  Listen.  These are ways to connect to that Voice.  Sometimes, it awakens the Wildness.  

It’s loud at first, and often loud off and on.  It’s those distractions.  We learn by listening to those noises as well.  It’s part of the “test” and “the trial”.  What we say when we stop, sit, and go into the Quiet.  We discover sides of ourselves we don’t want to hear: Of course you failed. You’re no good.  You’re stupid.  We come face to face with our Anger.  Our frustrations.  Grief.  We come face to face with our devils.  

We have to get through that to get to the other side.  It’s often the unshed and unacknowledged sides of ourselves. Listen to yourself.  Let it be.  To get beyond the filler to what’s true about yourself. Hint: you are not a loser, a failure.  Remember, you are part of the Light.  You are not your anger or your frustration or your grief.  We have to confront those self-trials to get to our Good Self, our God Self.  And beyond that is the Voice of God. It’s in the Wilderness.  Just waiting for us to step in. Or just waiting for us to be strong enough to be nudged (or pushed) in.  

There’s a day to day practice of the wild.  There’s the deeper Wilds that are represented in 40 days.  Deeply practicing Solitude, Quiet, Challenge.  I cannot describe your Wild. It’s your own.  You might know your Wild, but not be reading to face it.  Just knowing it can be part of confronting it.  And knowing you are not ready.  Also remember, that it is not always the right time to choose to enter the Wilderness; sometimes our life is already filled with challenges.  Part of the Wild is knowing…is it time, is it right, or are we avoiding/excusing ourselves because of fear.  (If in doubt, ask me, I can support you in finding your own truth).  

Preparing might be the giving up of something that will “tempt” you (wine, coffee, perhaps).  And maybe even tempt you terrible (technology, perhaps).  It’s not about winning.  It’s a challenge and whatever you discover (big, small, everything in between) brings you closer to that depth within.  Getting beyond what you say/hear when temptation becomes unbearable.  Beneath that…

Listen.  Beneath that is a voice that Loves you.  All of you.  We’ve filled our lives with distractions.  Wild Disciplines bring us back to the presence of that voice.  It’s not we made it 40 days without chocolate, let’s celebrate with more chocolate. It’s the love we find in that experience.  The strength.  The lessons.  

Every Wild teaches us whether we want to learn or not.  Our chosen Wild or the Wilds that life tosses us.  It tells us something.  Listen.  About the world.  Listen.  About ourselves.  Listen.  About Love.  Listen.  

Lent gives us a period of Listening.  How will you listen?  Perhaps, intentional listening.  Perhaps a rest of deliberate listening within challenge/test.  Perhaps simply remembering the quiet and the light and listening to whatever arrives.  

Every challenge teaches us to be more clear when all around us is muddy.  There’s so much muddiness, but it’s always been so.  

Jesus goes into the Wild before going out into the world, to grow and to become strong and to hear and strengthen the Voice of Love and Truth.  It was a time to root himself in his Good Self, his God Self.  To remember, and learn, to listen to God when the petty devils begin to speak from within and speak from the mouths around.  

How do we speak love in the muddiness or the world?  How do we speak live when our internal voice is full of darkness and mud?   We learn to hear the Voice.  The one that guides us to do better and to be better.  To not be right, but to be loving!  The one that teaches us to listen beyond the ugly, the meanness, the temptations, the awful…the one that teaches us to listen for Grace.  To look for the Good and the Good People.  

We come back ready to go out into the world to do the work that needs to be done.  Knowing it will be hard at times, but knowing ourselves strong enough to take up that challenge.  We can do it, we’ve been through the Wild!!  

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