Good Zeal

9:30 pm in the passageway

Last night I walked through the back passageway and passed Sister Eileen, a physician, who happened to have her stethoscope in hand. I completed my errand, and then, with the stethescope image still in mind, I paused in the passageway to listen, to wrap my ears in quiet, to auscultate the heart beat of the night… Against the window, shadows breathing with the wind… Outside, the tenor voice of a distant owl… Inside, the rhythmic breath of a house turning the final page of the day, nestling warmly under a blanket of night, and falling gently asleep in the arms of God.

The first word of the Rule of St. Benedict is “Obsculta,” or “Listen.” Listening is at the very heart of Benedictine life, inclining our ear to the heartbeat of God, attending to the indwelling breath of the Spirit. We listen through Sacred Scripture, the Word of God. We listen through the Rule of our Holy Father St. Benedict. We listen through the writings of holy ones. We listen to each other. Always, we seek to incline our ear to the heart and breath of God.

Now, in the light of morning, in the midst of the busy-ness of the day, may our hearts stay inclined, our ears wrapped in quiet, our hearts listening deeply to the very breath of God.

Postscript: As a follow-up from the previous post, my errand late last night was as one of St. Nick’s elves. Sister Sara Aiden and I moved from floor to floor and door to door, delivering the treats that had been prepared by St. Nick. Nearly every Sister had remembered to place a shoe outside her door, but we elves had mercy on the two who forgot!

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