This powerful image – Listening to the Heartbeat of God – speaks to me of the line: “Each morning you wake me to hear, to listen like a disciple” (Isaiah 50:4). Serving poor elderly in New Orleans as a pastoral care coordinator for Christopher Homes, Inc., I am given many opportunities to listen to God’s heartbeat.
Whenever I visit a particular Central American couple, the husband loves to read from Scripture. We end with prayer. The wife’s eyes always fill with tears when she calls upon Jesus. They are filled with joy even though their situation is precarious.
One woman stops by my office weekly to give me an update on all she has done that week. I try to listen to what she is saying and what she is not saying. It is not always easy for her to express her feelings.
Another woman, who was assaulted several years ago, feels the need to tell her story over and over again. She always describes it as God’s deliverance of her because when she started to pray out loud, her rapist left at once. I hear her words as a testimony to God’s tender mercies in her life.
At yet another site, members of a support group are learning from one another how to listen to God’s heartbeat, learning compassion and patience as they offer to others what they need for themselves.
Listening to God’s heartbeat is a call in ministry and in community. During the Sunday gathering of Religious of the Sacred Heart in our area, people share not only what strikes them in that week’s Scripture, but also what connections they find with their life experiences. Our listening empowers them to say more, to reveal more of God’s action in their lives.
Listening to God’s heartbeat can also be an inspiration to listen to ourselves. Prayer becomes a way of listening to my feelings. Listening sometimes for hours, I can often see myself in the other’s behavior, and can re-discover that person’s gift.
Prayer also becomes a way of listening to God’s dreams for me. Mariola Lopez Villanueva, RSCJ, expressed well how silence can open us to surrender: “We need to return to the interior Master who waits for us within and allow him each day to train us in silence and simplicity. Exposed to his Presence, we can abandon ourselves to his mystery” (“The Space Within,” Heart Magazine, Spring 2013).
Reflection by Annice Callahan, RSCJ
Icon written by Sr. Marie Paul, O.S.B.; © Monastère des Bénédictines du Mont des Oliviers and Editions CHOISIR, Genève.