Thursday, October 26, 2006

Blogging as a Spiritual Practice, and Listening

So, I've been cleaning out my work email, and came upon this link. It talks about journaling as a spiritual discipline and gives writing prompts.

This blog has become sort of a spiritual practice for me--if I'm writing only for myself, I save it on my PC or in my "drafts," but if I want to share my thoughts, I pen them here. This weekend at the OD retreat we're going to talk about the practices that define our community: listening, learning, eating, encouraging, giving. I said I would be willing to share a story on listening...

Writing is, for me, a way of listening to myself. Often I don't know what I think about something until I get it down on the page. That was certainly the case this past Saturday morning when instead of taking a walk, I wrote and wrote and wrote. And re-wrote--because all good writing is re-writing. I probably went easily throught eight drafts. And I read it out loud. And I timed my readings. And each time, I tightened the writing. And I stayed at my desk, writing, until I found the happy ending. I don't always have that luxury, of course, but it was nice that that morning I did.

My walks are another way I listen. I have a portable CD player that has its own specially decorated purse and it has one of three or four praise music CDs that I rotate on a semi-regular basis. Right now I'm listening to Surrounded, which is a CD produced by a praise team at Hope College. My brother gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago. For a few years, I walked the seminary nearby, listening and praying as I walked. But this summer I ventured east and now my standard walk takes me past the tennis courts and between the horses that guard the entrance to Highland Park. There are 17 tracks on the Surrounded CD and depending on the legnth of my walk, I may get through 5 or 8 or all 17. My favorite is an old hymn that recently has been set to at least one contemporary arrangement: Take My Life and Let it Be. It is the 5th track and often I will skip forward to it. We've been singing it to a different tune and arrangement as the benediction for our series on the Practices at the OD.

On the CD, right after Take My Life.. comes a spoken word piece from Psalm 139. "God, investigate my life..." Interesting that until now, I thought it was "God, you investigate my life." But the text, as I just pulled it up from, is "God, investigate my life," which is a declarative statement, a request. Other translations say "You have searched me..." or "You have examined my life."

Lately, I have had to listen harder. There's been less actual sound--today when I called to chat, all I got were machines. And I don't have my site meter up on the beta so I have no clue if yins really are showing up. (Although pictures of shoes seem to always garner comments...)

I've been learnign to listen to my body, which ironically often involves me chatting. Em will sometimes call in the morning and just listen as I try out ideas for the day. I'm learning that it's not enough to have a plan for the day--said plan may get thwarted, like today's plan to get ready for the retreat BEFORE work. (I snuggled under the covers, dozed into the early afternoon, as I fought my cold to the health of it.) Sunday I had planned to go to the 11:20 showing of One Night with the King at the Waterfront, but that was thwarted by my watch stopping. I was delighted that it was still 10:20 as I walked home from Tazza. I was surprised when I got home and realized it was already 11:00 and I still had dirty hair. So I changed plans and ended up going to the movies in the North Hills (where I pretty much live anyways) where I was able to rendevous with Eileen briefly before my trek back to the city. Saturday night, I was supposed to go skating. Instead, my body decided to take a nap. Which meant that I didn't miss a call from my dear friend Katie.

Today, as I wrote an email to Eileen, I realized I didn't have to be superwoman and be a driver for the retreat. Which meant a few things: I could wait to get my oil changed, I wouldn't have to study the map, and I wouldn't have to clear out my car! Had I not sat down to pen those words to Eileen, the thought might not have occurred to me.

Right now, my stomach is saying "I'm hungry" which it has every right to do, as my dinner consisted of a can of chicken noodle soup. I'll stop at Taco Bell on the way home.

And I feel like I'm running out of steam, big time. Sleep is calling me...I have 26 minutes left at work and then a half hour drive home and then a visit to Walgreens.

Listening suggests that there is something to be listened for. If a tree falls in a forest and noone hears it, does it make a sound? If there aren't ears to hear, is there sound?

Who do I listen to? I listen to my friends, I listen to my boss, I listen to my family, I listen to my body, and I ultimately listen to God.

I'm listening for you...are you there?


Sis said...

Yes! =)

Paula said...

I am here. I have given much thought lately to blogging, and I think sometimes we respond to shoes and food and the other daily things because they are safe and no one (me) wants to say the wrong thing.

I may not always comment, but I do visit almost every day.

Sarah Louise said...

I know. And it's not like I generally tackle stuff like diapers, which I do actually have a lot of experience with. I sometimes wish I could be a little less intense, but I haven't found a way around that yet...

Amy A. said...

I need to learn to listen better to my body. I sometimes don't pay any attention to it until it is yelling at me.

Sounds like you'll be giving a good talk at the OD!

Sarah Louise said...

Yeah, um, it will be pretty much verbatim from this blog, as I've been running like a chicken with its head cut off getting ready. Oh, and did I mention my radiators aren't working????

Lazy cow said...

I'm back/here. Bloglines has been letting me down, and not showing your new posts so I'm catching up. Bad Bloglines.

Carolyn said...

I could definitely improve my listening skills.

wilsonian said...

Yay(!!) for not having to clean out your car. :)