Did You Hear?

Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity, and love.” (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation)

Since reading it for the first time decades ago, I have felt powerfully drawn to this observation (above) from Thomas Merton. I go to it often seeking inspiration; but, I also enjoy reconsidering its implicit challenge. What, after all,  is the quality of my soil? How many precious “seeds of contemplation,” which are really words of God expressed through the ordinary circumstances of my life, have been wasted on me? How can I become a better listener?

After all, perhaps God speaks through…

The chirping of birds, the barking of a neighbor’s dog, a rush of wind…

The distant laughter of children at play, the “noise” testifying to human ingenuity, the traffic encountered during a daily commute…

Footfalls of a loved one approaching, the words “I understand” spoken compassionately by a friend…

A stranger’s yawn on the train, captivating music, a whispered “I love you”…

A trickle of water, an insect’s buzz, a cry for justice…

A sigh of relief, pages turning in a treasured photo album, a blessed silence…

The rustling of young leaves with their textured beauty set against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky…

The crunch of those same leaves under foot in late fall…

A distant foghorn, the scrape of a razor over morning stubble…

The subtle sizzle of a candle’s wick, tears, even bitter tears…

The creak of a rocking chair against the deck of a porch, a panhandler’s “Friend, can you spare some change?”…

The rush of a river’s current fed by melting mountain snow, the fluffing of a pillow…

A familiar, tender memory, an interior aching for meaning…

The soft breathing of a sick child, who has finally fallen asleep…

The click of a camera shutter after capturing a precious moment…

Forgiveness given or received or both, a stick figure drawing by a very young child…

Moments of surprising stillness that invite participation, a forgotten person’s loneliness, a favorite teddy bear…

Condensation on an ice-cold glass of lemonade, morning dew, a hot shower after finally exiting a sickbed…

A great work of art, a witnessed act of kindness, receiving breakfast in bed…

A good listener, the crack of a wooden bat against a baseball, a frisky wink…

An unset alarm clock… a dentist’s “all done,” a street sweeper’s scratch and grumble fading in the distance…

A face smiling back in a mirror, acceptance, poetry, a happy surprise…

The first careful sip of morning coffee, the scent of a Christmas tree, an example of beautiful penmanship…

The first snowflake of the season, an orb weaver’s majestic trap, the twitching of a squirrel’s tail…

The view from a mountain top on a crystal clear day, the imagination of a child, the pages of a diary or prayer journal…

Mutually respectful dialogue, words in a holy book, an unexpected visit from a wonderful old friend…

And… [Thoughts?]

—–

What if the voice of God can be found/heard in the “seeds” of life all around us, and we need only till our soil?

13 thoughts on “Did You Hear?

  1. jpkincambodia

    Thank you, Steve, for your invitational reflection. It’s in the ordinariness of life that we find the extraordinary, and your essay called this to mind for me, as I sit outside in the summer humidity, with the voices of calling jays and cardinals settling me into God’s world and asking me to order my day according to his will. What freedom!

    Reply
  2. Sharon Chace

    I think you would like the book Is God Visible: An essay on Religion and Aesthetics by Charles Taliaferro and Jill Evens.

    Reply
  3. Dr joseph LaFazia

    The essence of God’s love is there in every word and in all of creation and is expressed to your praise to Him.

    Reply

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