Saturday, January 31, 2009

What is Heard in the Listening

Easily, one of the most popular posts I've put up at this blog is from last year when I wrote about "Listening vs. Hearing". That particular entry has been viewed more than a hundred times and, quite often, it's been the page a newcomer lands on as they surf the blogosphere with a string of words: listening, hearing, God, get the idea.

But some thinking I've been doing lately has me wanting to come back to this topic again, and maybe expand it out further.
I've been contemplating the story of Jonah, and his reluctance to be a messenger of God's word and warning to the people in Nineveh. He tries to stow away on a ship, he gets thrown overboard, ends up in the belly of a whale and begins wailing to God to the point where the whale gets nauseated and coughs him back up. He finally does as God had commanded him to do, and the people of Nineveh listen to Jonah's warning, and repent and return to God. This greatly angers Jonah who was wanting to see some real "fire and brimstone" action and the taking down of this great city. So, he goes off and pouts about the unfairness of it all. And God ends up schooling Jonah on God's mercy.

When I think about Jonah, I see a lot of me in him, especially that first part of the story of wanting to escape from having to be the messenger for the Almighty. But, as I said in an email recently to my mentor, if I had been Jonah, I would imagine that if I had wandered around Nineveh, crying out at the top of my lungs, "Forty days more, and Nineveh will be overthrown!" and then seen people stop, take stock of the message, believe God, put on sackcloths and proclaim a fast...I would have been stunned. Shocked, really. Stopped in my tracks, looking around and saying, "What? You're actually listening to me?" And I probably would have fallen victim to pride thinking that I had done all this. I had made them listen, and they are repenting because I told them to do it. Puff, puff, puff...ain't I something else?!

And God would have to come in with a different ending to the story. One in which, instead of growing a shade bush and then having it destroyed to remind me who is the merciful one around here...I think God would have to plug up some ears, or make people deaf to my existence in some way. And then give me the schooling:
"Yes, they listened to you, but they heard me!"
Oh, yeah. Ego in check again.

This is one of the things I think about a lot as I discern what it is that I'm doing with my blog, with my service to God via the church as a Eucharistic Minister, with my life as a whole. If God is to work his purpose out through me, then I have to remember that, while the words may be coming out of my mouth...or being tapped out on the keyboard with my fingers, the real message is one that must point back to the love and mercy of God. For example, I feel my mission as a Eucharistic Minister when I'm in the role of reading the lessons is to be loud enough, and clear enough, that the person sitting in the pew hears the lesson. Sure, everyone has an insert and can read along and many do. But one hopes that their ears are as engaged as their eyes. And while it may be my voice speaking, the words are not mine, the story is not one that I created, and the last thing I say is, "The Word of the Lord" meaning, "This is about God, not me!" I remember well the proclamation from my youth growing up with Morning Prayer: Lord, open our lips, and our mouths shall proclaim your praise. I think that applies here.
As for my blog, I continue to strive toward communicating this enormous love God has for everyone...including the LGBT community. And even those times that I may not be directly speaking to issues that are about "my people", it's not as if I have stopped being gay. I don't see a separation between my sexual orientation and my Christian faith. I am a lesbian because that's who I am, and that's how God knew me as I was being knit together in the womb. I am a Christian because I have faith that God entered the world as Christ, and sacrificed himself for me, and then gave me hope through the resurrection. The "saving" happened at the time of Christ's death. The acceptance of that act of love and sacrifice, and the understanding that it was done for all of humanity without exception, has been the journey. I wish you peace, love and joy on your own journey toward fully embracing this love of God.
And may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen! How lovely this is....I wish I could hear you read the lessons, as some time those here may not get it all the time. I don't even think I could do it very well. Great job, my dear.