Making space for God

Daily Reading for March 15

The opening word of Benedict’s Prologue, Listen, not only establishes the urgency of listening but of listening in the right way—that is, “with the ear of the heart.” It was through that act of listening in the depths of his heart that the prodigal was able to return to the inviting God, the father offering his son unconditional love and acceptance. By straying from his heart, his true self, he had gone astray. His return to his heart resulted in his return to God.

How can a heart be pierced, punctured? What happens when I have become hard-hearted—or even half-hearted? Perhaps I have built up defensive walls, gradually, without noticing. In the Eastern spiritual tradition we are repeatedly warned of the dangers of “the hardening of the heart.” It is described as brittleness or “sclerosis,” which brings about a deficient sensitivity. When he was asked about it the desert father Abbot Poimen knew the cure. He said that if stone is hard, water is by its very nature soft, and when water drops continually on a stone it hollows it out. “So too God’s word is delicate and mild, and whoever hears the word of God and reflects on it makes a space within his heart where it can enter.”

From Seeking Life: The Baptismal Invitation of the Rule of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2009).

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