Listening for Guidance

If we have listening ears, God speaks to us in our own language, whatever that language is.
—Mahatma Gandhi

When things start getting crazy, I’m learning to slow down and listen. When I don’t know what to do next, I take time for meditation and stillness in the presence of God. Instead of getting caught up in the chaos of the world, I withdraw to ask for guidance and help. I attune myself to a deeper wisdom that is in harmony with eternal values. 

It is our nature to harmonize with the natural rhythms of the universe, yet we have for the most part forgotten how to do this. In a world in crisis, it is vitally important to regain this lost art, and to attune our lives to the silent pulse that lies beneath all forms and manifestations. 

In his classic book on mindfulness meditation, Wherever You Go, There You Are, John Kabat-Zinn says that meditation “is a door into the timeless, it operates beyond time, underneath time, inside of time, and so allows for transformation without having to strive to get anywhere else, or beat oneself up along the way for being inadequate, or imperfect.” 

You do not have to twist yourself into a pretzel for hours on end or become an enlightened expert on exotic forms of mantras and mental tricks to find the benefits of meditation in your own life. A simple and ongoing commitment to fifteen to twenty minutes, or even five or ten when pressed for time, can be a gentle tool for transformation. As you learn to still your mind and body, you ease yourself out of time-bound restrictions and reactions into the peace and beauty of the eternal here and now.

By withdrawing from the world to listen to the still small voice of God, we learn to love God more deeply so that we can know ourselves more authentically and serve humanity more fully. It is a journey to the Source of love so that we may be that love in the world we inhabit.

We also practice the art of listening presence when we choose to
• listen with all our senses
• open our minds to larger ideas as we release old assumptions
• release that which no longer serves us and embrace our potential for wholeness 
• ask the questions that open us to new patterns that bring life and vitality
• enter into who we are already in the eyes of God
• live our lives with integrity and coherence 
• offer our unique gifts in service to the world

It’s an artful way to approach daily life as well. We ourselves hold the possibility of becoming art—of capturing the genesis moment of creation in the eternal here and forever now of our own lives. This requires an educated eye, a listening ear, a feeling heart, and a spirit attuned to the unfolding wonder of life itself. 

We must teach ourselves to be present and aware, or we will miss moments of glory and rapture. We must be able to listen with all our senses, set the distractions aside, and focus our awareness on what is happening within us and around us. 

As we train our hearts and minds, and awaken our senses, we discover that every moment is a Genesis moment, holding the potential for us to co-create with God. Then we can say, “Let there be…” and we can love our own small everyday world into fullness of being. 


I know artists whose medium is life itself and who express the inexpressible without brush, pencil, chisel, or guitar. They neither paint nor dance. Their medium is Being. Whatever their hand touches has increased life… They are the artists of being alive. 
—Frederick Franck

The Secret Path is not alone a path of mind; it may, and should, easily become the forerunner of a path of outer achievement, the more dynamic because it is the more inspired. Its object is not to withdraw men into monastic idleness but to help them work more wisely and more effectively in their own spheres of usefulness. 
—Paul Brunton

Every profound innovation is based on an inward-bound journey, on going to a deeper place where knowing comes to the surface. 
—W. Brian Arthur

I know what the answer is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world. 
—Henry Miller

I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.
— Joseph Campbell

If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth that which is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
—The Gospel of Thomas

Become aware of what is in you.
Announce it, pronounce it, produce it, and give birth to it.
— Meister Eckhart

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
—from the Lord’s Prayer

Your name, your sound can move us
if we tune our hearts as instruments for its tone.
Create in me a divine cooperation—
from the many selves, one voice,
one action.
—Neil Douglas Klotz (from an Aramaic translation of the Lord’s Prayer)

I want to know the mind of God. 
The rest is all details
— Albert Einstein

Affirmative prayer

Speak, Lord, for I am listening…
I enter blessed stillness and openness, so native to my soul. 
I find rest after all of the noise and distraction. 
I enter into the Presence.
I am listening…
And as I quiet mind and body, I hear a still small voice.
It whispers the truth I need to hear today,
A loving message from the heart of God to my human heart. 

Introducing an inspiring friend: 

Artist Emily Steinberg Cash at Watermelon Moon Farm sent me a reminder that their Autumn Harvest and Celebration Home Tour happens this weekend, September 11 and 12. It launches the fall festivities: luncheons, classes, crafts, cooking, and a memorable time at the historic Watermelon Moon Farm Bed and Breakfast just outside of Lebanon, Tennessee. Emily and Harold have remodeled and refreshed the shop after the fire this summer, and they are open for business from now through Christmas. Enjoy old-fashioned hospitality at this historic homestead. And if you miss the fall open house, look for the dates for the holiday open house in mid-November. I did a book signing there last year and loved every minute of it (especially the guinea hens!)

Check out their website for more events.
10575 Trousdale Ferry Lebanon,TN 37090
Phone – 615.444.2356
e-mail –

More inspiration for artful living: 

Sister Joan Chittister says: 

If, indeed, truth is beauty and beauty truth, then the monastic and the artist are one.

Monasticism, in fact, cultivates the artistic spirit. Basic to monasticism are the very qualities art demands of the artist: silence, contemplation, discernment of spirits, community and humility.

Basic to art are the very qualities demanded of the monastic: single-mindedness, beauty, immersion, praise and creativity. The merger of one with the other makes for great art; the meaning of one for the other makes for great soul.

Read the entire post at Huffington Post, August 23, 2010
The Artist and Monk Are One
From "The Monastic Spirit and the Pursuit of Everlasting Beauty," which appeared in The Journey and the Gift: The Ceramic Art of Brother Thomas.