Welcome to October, the first full month of shorter days and longer nights, as the leaves on the trees begin to turn and fall in earnest! This month will be a busy one at First Parish, as you are invited to participate in cottage meetings and focus groups and a very important workshop, all sponsored by your amazing Ministerial Search Committee! Your participation at this point in the search process is vital, so please do try to attend at least one cottage meeting as well as the Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop on October 24th.
This month in worship, we will be reflecting on our theme, which is “Deep Listening.” This is a good month to contemplate one or more of these questions:
- How good a listener are you? How well and carefully do you listen to others? Is it easy for you? Or is it a challenge?
- When in your life have you felt deeply listened to by someone else? And how did it feel? And how often does that happen? Who in your life has listened to you best of all?
- How good are you at listening to yourself – to the voice of sadness or loneliness within you or to the voice of joy?
- How well do you listen to your own intuition?
- How often do you make the time to listen for the voice of Spirit, the voice of Goddess/God, the voice of the ancestors, or the still small voice within?
- How has this pandemic time impacted your ability to listen or to hear? Do you find it any easier to hear the songs of birds, wind, trees? Or to hear the sound of silence?
- How able are you to hear the voices of people of color and indigenous persons when they share their own experiences, their pain, their anger?
- How well are you doing with listening to those with whom you disagree?
“Silent” and “listen” share all six letters in common, of course, and deep listening requires of us that we settle and quiet ourselves – our bodies and our minds – enough that we can hear the “other,” whomever or whatever that “other” may be. And that requires some measure of both intention and courage. Deep listening is not an easy thing. In the words of Henri Nouwen,
To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.
And so, during this month of deepening darkness, let us settle in, breathe deeply, practice courage, and listen as best we can to our own inner wisdom, to one another, and to the world around us.