Sacred listening. It's probably the thing about which I'm most passionate in the church--shoot, in the world! What it is exactly, I can't explain. Sacred listening isn't something we do as much as it's something we experience. All that's required of us in sacred listening is our intention. Nope: I didn't say "attention"; I said "intention." Of course, we have to be attentive; but, in sacred listening, we listen by waiting for something more than the words, more than the nonverbal communication, and more than all other elements of synchronicity that tend to surface when we are intent on seeing the sacred in ourselves and others. Again, of course those things matter, and we definitely pay attention to them; but, we're waiting and listening for something more.
Sacred listening is a spiritual practice. It happens always, whether it registers beyond our unconscious or not. The key is intention. When we move our intention towards sacred listening, something amazing happens. Both the listener and the sharer are transformed. This is a spiritual phenomenon. I'm not at all sure how it actually works. It just does. I know this from experience.
Sacred listening is not new-age mumbo jumbo. It's actually medieval! You'll have to seek a time in history after the Crusades, when Islam--unlike the modern-media-driven caricatures flooding our concepts today--was the leading proponent for appreciating culture, furthering education, and exploring spirituality to rediscover some of the roots of sacred listening. You may have heard of Sufism and one of its most popular poets, Rumi. Rumi sums up sacred listening in his poem, "Out Beyond Ideas":
Out beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other"
doesn't make any sense.
Yes: Rumi gets it! He's been there and experienced sacred listening.
In sacred listening, our intention must wait, look, and listen "out beyond ideas." We listen without the guidance of our ideas. "Right-doing and wrong-doing" is the realm of judgement. Sacred listening requires the intent to NOT judge, regardless of the emotional weight of what's shared. If we find it difficult to hear what the sharer shares due to the way it makes us feel, then we turn our intention upon those stirred emotions. It just might be that the message from the Eternal directs us to explore the sources of those emotions within ourselves. "There is a field. I'll meet you there" alludes to the sense of being in this thing together, which creates a sacred space for dialogue. Dialogue assumes that all parties meet on equal ground, and all that they bring to the table is deemed equal-worth. "When the soul lies down in that grass," speaks of the safety in sacred space. Sacred listening assumes that safety for both listener and sharer. It is a safety that comes not from the merits of either party but, rather, from the Eternal of whom both parties share in substance. When this occurs, "the world is too full to talk about." In sacred space, experiencing sacred listening, whatever occurs next is spiritual and beyond words. What's gained feels more like ah-ha moments and less like anything that can be conceptualized--soul food, not brain food. "Ideas, language, even the phrase 'each other' doesn't make any sense" because what is gained for both sharer and listener when sacred listening happens is a mere glimpse of our true selves; and, those true selves are connected in ways we could never have imagined otherwise.
Why all this talk about sacred listening? Two reasons:
First, there's no more potent time for such a mode of being than this week, which ends at the foot of the cross. While the soldier spoke, this is no time or place for ideas, language, or even phrases like "each other." Here, we must surrender and lose our lives. We must wait for something more.
The other reason comes from one of my heart's desires to engage in this process with you. Like I said, sacred listening always happens; but, we can plan to intentionally tune into it as well. Our Worship on Wednesdays was a fantastic program. It will be a few months before we engage in another series like that, so I'm beginning to think of ways to ride the good vibes and keep our spiritual fellowship flowing. One way to do this would be to begin a SACRED LISTENING group. We'd gather weekly for a couple of hours to engage in this deeply spiritual process. Also, this process can always take place in the context of one-on-one meetings or even couples and/or group mediation-type meetings. I'm always game for exploring this with you. I offer this not to attempt for us to fix each other. Rather, I offer it out of selfishness because I, too, want to experience the Eternal. I know you'll experience it, too.
If you would be interested in starting a SACRED LISTENING group with me, or if you'd like to experience it in the context of a one-on-one-, couples-, or group-type setting, please let me know. In an ideal world, the SACRED LISTENING group would not exceed more than eight members. If more than eight were interested, we'd pick different times for multiple groups to meet.
Okay, back to my vacation now.