June 1–Listening: To Whom?

Why Not Be Polite?

Is God speaking.

Why not be polite and

Listen to




After a month of focusing on the ways that we belong, can belong, and need to belong, this provocative word from Hafiz on listening still pushes my buttons.  I have had enough experience in this world to know that I find what I hear coming from some people to be repugnant and offensive.  It is clear to me that everyone in this country right now who is engaged in politics at all–regardless of party affiliation–finds the voice and the message of the other party’s candidates objectionable.  We don’t want to listen to these voices because we know what they say, and we are not open to it.  We have good reasons.

That is my push back to Hafiz today.  I know what some of those voices out there are saying.  I find them irrational, misdirected and often ignorant of plain facts that lead elsewhere.  Why, oh wise one, would you ever suggest that everyone is God speaking?

Perhaps the first step in good listening is to listen to ourselves.  Perhaps the thing first is to actually bring ourselves to say what we are thinking and feeling out loud to an empty room so that we can listen to our own voices, our own thoughts, our own feelings.  Mine sound so much better to me as silent thoughts.  When I say them out loud, I begin to hear things in the words that were hiding in the silence.

If there is a God and if this God did bring all of this that we are into being, then in some real and uncomplicated fashion, every rock is an expression of that God.  And every tree. Every beautiful song bird is an expression of that God. And every cockroach.  Okay, and every snake.  And, every person. (Notice, I still found it easier to allow every person after the cockroach and snake–saying that out loud was pretty telling!).

Hafiz has not suggested that I agree with everything I hear when I listen to everyone.  He has simply invited me to listen.  I also sense that he invites me to imagine how the voice of God might be found underneath, in and through each voice.  That certainly radicalizes listening, doesn’t it?

Bob Patrick

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