Editor’s note: DCSC volunteer Megan celebrates day 10 of Advent with a reflection on the word ‘listen’. 

Throughout these past few weeks, I have been actively repeating the word ‘listen’ to myself as a way to help slow down and really be intentional with my presence. To be a good listener is something I’ve always strived for. That’s because it’s something I recognize and value very much in other people, but I know it’s not always easy.

However, it’s true that the other senses are heightened when we take another away. For example, I became an expert at recognizing and locating the sound of my sophomore English teacher’s footsteps when I would begin to doze off in the middle of class back in high school. Who knew that doing my best to avoid getting detention back in the day would become such a therapeutic form of meditation later on in life? I close my eyes and focus my attention first to my breath, and then to all the sounds surrounding me in that moment. 

Sometimes it’s the lyrics to a favorite song or a favorite chord in a guitar solo. Sometimes, it’s the sound of wind during a brisk walk home or the choir of birds announcing the beginning of spring after a long, brutal winter. And sometimes…. It’s absolutely nothing. Silence. 

My grandma is a very spiritual lady and I remember her telling me to listen for God as I fell asleep many years ago. I also heard this advice from my mom, dad, and teachers, but I didn’t quite understand what they meant. Was God just going to start talking to me in one of my ears? Would it be scary? What would it sound like? Should I turn off the air conditioner so I could hear Him better? I took this advice to listen for God quite literally and tangibly. And I think sometimes God does speak to us in that way. But more often than not, God has spoken to me through silence, through writing, through music, through others, through emotions or through my own stream of consciousness. I do hear a voice every now and then softly whispering to me, but it usually comes as a sweet, motherly presence. Her advice is always short and simple, but I am always immediately overcome with a feeling of peace afterwards. And this sweet sound only comes once I stop focusing so much on the right way to listen and just simply listen, closing my eyes and opening my heart to the present moment. 

It’s hard to always be a good listener. We get distracted by our surroundings or the thoughts in our heads, but it doesn’t mean we should stop trying to hear what God is saying to us. This Advent season, I will continue practicing the art of listening, because in my heart I know God is closer than I think, waiting for me to answer His call, whatever it may be. 

Reflection: What does being a good listener mean to you? When you close your eyes, what can you hear around you in this present moment right now?