December 12, 2011

Shhh...I'm listening...or trying to listen

Long, rambling, random thoughts post coming your way!

It seems as though God is hinting at me to be quiet these days.  And admittedly I stink at being quiet.  I admire quiet people, am drawn to quiet people (perhaps because they leave more room for my noise), and want very much to be a quiet person.  I often wonder if it is possible to actually be as reverent as I feel while still, as a friend once put it, emanating  white noise.

Even when outwardly I look quiet, inwardly I'm talking God's figurative head off.  I never shut up in my head/heart and am at every second telling the Divine Organizing Force of the Universe what I think, how I feel, my opinion on the chicken marinade I used last night.  Perhaps I'm a bad listener because I've always felt a little opposed to asking God for anything.  I figure that I know nothing in comparison, and so it would be foolish to ask for anything to be one way or another when my perspective is so narrow.  Seriously, on the rare occasion that I break down and say, "God, please (fill in the blank)" if have serious guilt for days and the ask, "God, please ignore that.  It was a moment of weakness.  Really.  Apologies."

I know answers aren't the only things worth listening for, and I'm pretty sure I miss barrels of guidance with my internal God chatter.  But I like God.  He's kind of my pal.  And isn't there a quote about how when we love someone, we can't resist speaking his name and how much more so should we feel that way for God?  Well, that's my excuse to myself every time I think Gee, Sky, you must be making God nuts with all this blabbering.  I just justify it with that magical little Ruhi book1 quote and bounce on my merry way.

But I think I've been getting hints.  Or maybe my conscience is making me place too much meaning on the ample amounts of what I'm calling, SHUT UP ALREADY VIBES that have been coming my way.

First, a very wise acquaintance of mine had for his facebook status this quote, "The essence of true safety is to observe silence..."  Now, I'm sure it wasn't aimed at me, but it sure spoke to me.  I'm always getting myself into little jams because I said the wrong thing (or typed the wrong thing) and if I would just observe silence, my quality of life would be significantly increased!

Next, my mom sent me her annual gigantic produce box filled with Hanukkah goodies on top and odds and ends that she couldn't bare to throw away after having saved since my arrival on the planet underneath.  My baby clothes, a dolphin necklace I got in 7th grade, my tub toys, and odd and end paper things that she thought I might like.  Among the paper things was a beautiful quote in calligraphy that says:

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common -- this is my symphony.  ~Channing

My mom and I share a love of words.  Her house is covered in words.  Every plant pot has a pretty inspirational word sticking out of it on a stick, her walls are covered in quotes and words of serenity, her fridge and bulletin boards are papered over with inspiration, words are framed and needle pointed and cross stitched on every surface of her home.  So, I'm sure this was just a kind of passing on of a nice set of words.  But those words...There's a lot about listening and being quiet in there and it's all spot on.  When is the last time I listened to birds or sages (I listen to babes all day, so don't you worry about that one!)?  In case you are wondering, I share the love of words but when I nail a giant serene word on my wall and then I lose my patience, that word glares at me and reminds me of my shortcomings and how far I still have to go on this eternal path and I feel like having it there is like acting.  Pretending to be a more serene person than I am.  And then I take it down out of guilt.  My secret desire, however, is to live in a word filled house like my mother's.  I just have to mellow myself out enough to appreciate the words rather than feel mocked by them!  LOL!

Then tonight I ran across this article on Africa and the art of listening.  Last Thanksgiving was one of the best on Christison family record.  My Granny flew out and we had 2 LDS missionaries and our dear friend Bereket (originally from Eritrea) and his friend from...I believe it was Egypt?  Maybe?  Anyway, Bereket and his friend spoke at length about how depressing America is in that strangers don't really see each other.  They spoke about cafes where you go buy a drink and grab any open chair, even if it's at a table where a bunch of strangers are sitting.  You just sit.  And when you get up, you are no longer strangers.  It sounded magic to me.  Intimidating and magic.  And it explains a lot about Bereket, a young man who can speak to anyone with ease and who has an air of humble confidence about him.  In this article, the writer speaks of sitting on a bench with strangers in Mozambique and hearing their stories.  Everyone is a story teller.  And everyone is a listener.  He tells of all there is to be gained from listening.

My last thought on being quiet is from Eat, Pray, Love.  Elizabeth Gilbert, who apparently went through a similar struggle for quiet, was forgiven for all of her blatant crimes against morality when she wrote these words that I so very much identified with:

“I decide that I’ve been talking too much. To be honest, I’ve been talking too much my whole life….This has been the story of my life. It’s how I am. But I’ve been thinking lately that this is maybe a spiritual liability. Silence and solitude are universally recognized spiritual practices, and there are good reasons for this. Learning how to discipline your speech is a way of preventing your energies from spilling out of you through the rupture of your mouth, exhausting you and filling the world with words, words, words instead of serenity, peace and bliss….
I’ve always been so fascinated by these wraith-like, delicate souls. Always wanted to be the quiet girl. Probably precisely because I’m not. It’s the same reason I think that thick, dark hair is so beautiful — precisely because I don’t have it, because I can’t have it. But at some point you have to make peace with what you were given and if God wanted me to be a shy girl with thick, dark hair, He would have made me that way, but He didn’t.”

Is there any chance I'm not meant to fight my inner chatter box?  That I'm not missing the big picture?  That I'm not driving God mad with noise?  Probably not, but as I repeatedly lose my battle to be quiet, the idea of that comforts me a little.

Who knows?  I'm still working on quiet today.  Probably will be for a long time.  Maybe, when I'm very old and have lost all of the energy I now pour into talking, I will sit still and quiet and internally celebrate my quietness, pretending that I have finally mastered my tongue and am not just to tired to go on. 

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