We are called, writes Adam S. McHugh, an ordained Presbyterian minister and spiritual director, to participate in the listening life. This spiritual practice gives rise to discipleship and the act of servanthood.
It also leads to wisdom and an openness to the beauties and bounties right in front of us.
McHugh is convinced that life in our wired society is eroding our capacity for listening. In addition, we live in a culture where the visual is king; sight nowadays takes precedence over hearing. But in the Bible, Jesus demonstrates again and again that true listening is a profound act of hospitality. He gives his total attention to people. We are challenged to do the same.
Listening to God is an everyday activity and when we practice this regularly, we come upon what McHugh calls "God-saturated moments." With genuine earnestness, the author demonstrates how we can make the most of listening as we read the Bible, as we revel in nature and the spiritual discipline of a long walk, as we activate our listening hearts, and as we listen to people in pain.
For all these ways of listening, we are required to slow down. Or as Madeleine L'Engle puts it, "When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being, there is no time for listening.” Quiet and solitude provide the workshop for listening to ourselves, our emotions, our bodies, our deepest questions about life, and the meaning of it all. McHugh ends this soul-stirring book with a plea for churches to see themselves as communities who listen intently with their ears to the ground.