“Hear, O Israel” (Deu. 6:4)

“Being heard
is so close to being loved
that for the average person,
they are almost indistinguishable.”
― David Augsburger

Today I offer you another audio post on prayer. I recorded it sponaneously early last week after I had an encounter that deeply moved me. It’s about 15 minutes long.

24 comments on ““Hear, O Israel” (Deu. 6:4)

  1. AMDG says:

    Amen and amen.
    And may we also wait in love, listening for Love, receiving Him with love.

  2. Laura T. says:

    What a wonderful reminder to slow down and listen intentionally!

  3. Agnes L. says:

    Thank you! To listen with my ears and heart and face is my prayer today.

  4. Melissa T says:

    Love it, thank you again for the recording! I think a hybrid of blog posts and recordings are (at least from my perspective) VERY helpful. I was able to close my eyes and LISTEN to your words, ponder them and journal them. So many great nuggets of advice- I always need the reminder to slow down, to be attentive and aware of who our Heavenly Father sends my way that needs to be listened to daily–yes, Our God is a God who listens to us, may we too be a reflection of His graciousness. God bless you.

  5. Louise says:

    What a great reminder in my work as a chaplain – just the very act of listening intently is, in and of itself, very healing. I don’t need to fix anything or give advice. I pray that I will get better at that and let go of my own agenda for the person in front of me. God can work through me but only if I get out of the way! Thanks for sharing your powerful insights, Tom

  6. DismasDancing says:

    Awesome, Brother Tom. Your vignette regarding your daughter, Marie, reminded me of two incidents in my own life that encourage me to practice the true art of listening (which, sadly, I still do not do well). For, as you so poignantly point out, most of us are terrible listeners. The first involved our youngest child, the younger of our two sons. The second involved one of the homeless men with whom I come into frequent contact in my group ministry to a local St Vincent de Paul homeless facility.

    I was nearing retirement from the Corps in New Orleans. Our son was attending college at a northern Louisiana university. We would periodically talk by phone to see how things were going. I’m a junkie when it comes to politics and history that are sure to have historical context. So, one evening when I was intently watching TV, our son called to invite us up to the university for a special event. After sharing the common pleasantries and necessary bits of info-swapping that go on between college kid and parent, I found myself totally wound up in what was on the television, NOT on what my son was trying to convey to me. When he asked me a question he had asked at least twice, I snapped out of my TV-induced trance and admitted that I had stopped listening. My soul was hurt deeply (as was his, I am sure) that I had allowed something as totally unimportant as the idiot box contents to distract me from the needs of my own flesh and blood. Following profuse apologies, I promised him, and myself, that I would endeavor with my heart and soul to never again allow myself an opportunity to so badly insult anyone to whom I am speaking by totally tuning them out in favor of something else far less important than THAT person at THAT moment. I shall never be able to claim full success; but I am today much better at listening that I have been heretofore.

    That brings me to the second case. A church group in which I participate is dedicated to providing hot meals to the homeless. We will begin our seventh year in December. Through that ministry I have been richly blessed to meet hundreds of Christ’s children who are in constant and dire need of someone willing to listen to them, through which process, they do, indeed, feel a true sense of love. Love is a stranger to most of these folks. Their stories are wrought with misunderstanding, rejection, derision, distrust, fear, and often, pure hate, even from folks in the same situation. As one who did not grow up in the lap of luxury, but is nonetheless richly blessed in the material comforts of life, it took me a while to overcome all the prejudices attendant to meeting and caring for the homeless. It is SO, SO easy to judge. In time, the Holy Spirit has provided amazing guidance and grace for me to get to know many of these folks on a personal basis. I have provided my cell phone number to a few of them who have asked (most folks in the biz advise against that practice for a number of reasons). Sometimes, text messages, voicemail messages left on my cell phone from one or more of them truly make my day.

    A couple of years ago, I sat down with gentleman who was seated at a table close to the serving line on one of our hot-meal days. When ALL clients are fed, and IF there is food remaining, the facility volunteers and we who have prepared it will have a bite to eat with the clients. This man is a smallish, older, African-American who has severe disabilities. One hand is missing entirely; the other hand has only partial fingers, but retains the thumb. Talk about a lesson in humility! For all of his reasons to be bitter and angry with the world and everyone in it, he lives in a private world that accepts everything because there is a “reason” for everything. He doesn’t spend a lot of time navel-gazing about the “why’s?” of his situation; instead praising God for the little he has and for the blessings of the hot meal. I am even more deeply humbled as he offers effusive thanks for our taking time to prepare hot meals for him and his companions in the homeless world. “How?” I ask, “is this man so quiet when I complain loudly at the least intrusion into the world as I want it?”

    I probably spent 20 minutes with him, saying very little, but listening intently. Again, talk about a lesson in humility! As I rose to assist in cleaning up, he held out what remained of his right hand for me to shake it. It was an honor. “Thanks so much for listening,” he said in all sincerity. “I don’t have many opportunities to have folks listen to me. Thank you; thank you, thank you, for taking the time.” All I could think was, “As long as you do it unto the least of these, my brethren, you do it unto Me!”

    Brother Tom, I truly enjoy the oral, as well as the written, blog posts. Thanks for re-focusing, at least for me, the importance of shutting our own mouths and not only listening, but also hearing the messages that others so need to offer us because they need and want the love of our time spent in having our “faces listen”.

    • Yet again, DD, revealing your gift of narrating truths of faith in Hi-def real life color. I almost shouted aloud when I read your resolve this morning. Your posting will fill a gap in the blogosphere, as you combine three things: (1) robust orthodoxy, (2) magnanimous charity and (3) hard won and gritty life-wisdom. As soon as you pull together your Blog, be sure to let me know and I will promo it. Your son advised you well! Your kind comments about my Blog say far more about you than about me, as the things I say that elicit a response in you reveal an inner ground that has already been long cultivated. I knew a monk at an Abbey in New England who would weep even at the mention of eternal life — mostly because he was already living in it. So press on and scatter the seeds you have gathered into the fields God will lead you to! Pax et bonum,
      DrT

      • DismasDancing says:

        My dear friend, I know you only through this medium. But I am pretty close to a number of folks who have met you and know you much more personally than I. You are loved and respected perhaps more than you know. And while I also know that your deep faith keeps you well-grounded in that such knowledge is unlikely to affect (or have an Effect on) your humility, God sometimes lets us know through others that we are indeed on the correct path in terms of service to Him and His creatures among whom He sent you to live and teach. So thank you for the exceptionally kind words. I treasure them and your confidence in this project that initially looks daunting. I pray that the Lord will allow me to serve Him as well as you have through your beautiful blog. Et cum spiritu tuo!
        DD

  7. DismasDancing says:

    Brother Tom, I have been following you for a goodly number of years. At one point a couple of years ago, you recommended that I begin blogging on my own accord. After much prayer, thought, and conversation with the son referred to in my response above, I have decided to follow through on your advice and begin a blog site. You have been far more gracious to me than I deserve since my responses are most often quite lengthy. But you have also been tremendously exemplary in the things that you post, things that get me thinking and wanting to share more thoughts (and history) on my faith and how it has affected my life’s journey. Your followers are truly special in so many ways and, because I have indeed been richly blessed with a plethora of very “real” experiences, only some of which I have shared herein, I have been encouraged by them, too, to share more. Because this is YOUR blog, it would be impertinent of me to continue on as you have so graciously allowed me to do.

    I have begun the process and hope to offer my first post soon. Because you have been so influential in bringing (pushing, perhaps) me to this point, I would surely like to link to your blog and to those of other responders who may have blogs. Their responses to my comments have been very inspirational and have contributed in no small measure to my finally making this decision.

    Thanks you so very much, again, for your patience and “mentorship”, if you will. I will continue to follow your posts religiously since I gain much through your scholarship, faith, and joy of being a father and husband–joys which I, too, simply cannot express enough–and share deeply.

    May God continue to bless you and each of your followers in all that they do. When I complete the details of set up, I would like to inform you through your blog site, that those who have an interest in the things I offer might follow me as well. I don’t think I will ever be as good at it as you are and have been; but as your “pupil”, I pray that I will do “justice” to your example. God bless you my friend. As a young altar boy, the very beginning of Mass held, and still holds, special meaning, even though that beautiful Psalm is no longer a part of our Mass today. So, as I move to blogging in my own right I offer, “Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat, juventutem meam.” “I will go unto the altar of God; to God Who is the joy of my youth!”

    May the Peace of Christ be with you always!

  8. Jennifer says:

    Dismas, I for one, would love to read your blog. Looking forward to seeing even more of your thoughts unleashed. – J

  9. Allison says:

    Thank you! That was beautiful and something I needed to hear!

  10. nos. not listener says:

    I agree with Mischelleturi,,, that this selfish sinner would love to hear your wonderfull sermons I mean posts in audio form more often .We love and pray for you dr. Kneel and all the Neal clan… give the Pope my regards and the others as well . I’m sorry Thomas what was it you were saying… in the world rank of listener I am number 6,000,000,000 I blame it on Eve. If she had only ” listened” to the big A I just know I could at least be at number 5,999,999,999

  11. Joanna Brady says:

    Dear Dr Tom,thankyou for this wonderful meditation,it struck a cord deep within me,especially the reminder to listen with our faces,beautiful .God be Praised in all the little moments of our lives.

  12. marta says:

    I was blessed many years ago to be challenged by a priest giving talks on prayer to spend time praying before the Blessed Sacrament. I’ve been pondering a d asking God during this time what He wants me to do. Many times I spend this hour wondering what it’s all about. Last time I clearly felt he asked me….when do you see me? Your 15 minutes today helped me unravel some deep thoughts. This world is a busy pace and many people would not begin to understand spending time looking at the face of God. Your words helped me understand God has been helping me see Him and become a good listener so I can become a better Christian to those He sends my way. Like you said I’m also having a difficult time wrapping this up. Thank you. These thoughts will go with me today as I have the pleasure and grace to look at the face of my Lord.

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