One thing I love about Catholic spirituality is that it acknowledge that we all have voices in our heads. You know it. I know it. We hear voices in our heads all the time. Sometimes they are loud, punishing voices about what we didn’t do right, what we need to do better… sometimes they are super critical voices about how flabby our stomachs are or how short we are or how awful our hair looks. Some of the voices are just mundane about – don’t forget to do that load of laundry (don’t put it in the dryer!) or remember to pay that bill or file that reimbursement or sign that permission slip for school…
None of these voices – in my experience – is the voice of God. For me, the voice of God is not loud and punishing – it’s not critical – and it’s not mundane. Often, for me, the voice of God is gentle, loving – and – WISE. It’s this sort of underlying voice that I can really only hear if I can turn the volume down on those other voices in my head. Meditation practitioners will tell you to acknowledge those other voices and then send them on their way. So, I try to do that.
Or I also like the image of a jar with muddy water in it. And you shake it up and the mud and dirt are floating everywhere – but then you set the jar down and watch the mud and dirt settle down to the bottom. And you can see eventually clearly through the still water.
That’s what it’s like for me to listen to the voice of God. Still. Quiet. Gentle. Clear.
Maybe for you, that voice is the singing voice of somebody at your house of worship or the commanding – but always right – voice of your grandmother.
To me, this is the voice of God – who made you and who looks at you with tremendous love. I want my students to be curious – as I was and am – and to follow that curiosity, even if it takes you to place that are scary or places that are away from your family or places you never thought you’d go.
My greatest hope in my work is that my students will come away from my classes truly believing that there is a voice inside of them that is worth listening to. And that they will spend the rest of their lives listening for that voice – and honoring what it says.
One tool that is helping me quiet the distracting voices in my head these days is the new prayer app called Hallow. I like it for many reasons, but mostly because it holds a lot of quiet time for me and helps me sink down into that squishy, fertile soil of wisdom that waits for me in quiet. Try it out! What do you think?