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Life Chez Dee Episode #127: A listening heart

It’s the last session in this Advent series I’ve joined. The course has been about hearing and listening, and today we are invited to go to a very deep place, where we have to listen with our hearts and not just our ears; a place where reading and understanding are just not enough.

Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness

We begin as always with listening to a song, and again as always, I’m not keen. But I do listen to the words, because as always there are always words which speak to me.

In this instance the words are “open my eyes; let me see”. Something is stirring within and resonating with me. I have had my eyes opened in many ways. I have had my eyes opened to the brutality and the beauty of the world, how cruel and yet wonderful life can be. I have learned so much about life lately, all I have learned, experienced, listened to, witnessed, and how I am open to so much more.

The song goes on to say how God is “altogether wonderful to me”. Is He? I think to myself. If I am to answer honestly, the answer is I really don’t know. I am still trying to get my head around whether God has been altogether wonderful to me … he’s yet to convince me, but my eyes are open to this.

And so here I am listening; being open. We talk about journeys, journeys of life, healing journeys. We may despair, we may lack understanding, but we choose to try and learn. I hear that no matter how bleak our lives, the way through is to pray, and that trusting needs to be greater than our doubting.

This is speaking to me. I have been through some bleak times; I have prayed. I have talked with Edward, I have asked my guardian angel to help me, I have had many, many things to say to God! I trust in Edward actually; always have and always will. I trust he is here with me, alongside at all times; I trust he is in my thoughts, words and deeds and guides me to listen to my heart and my gut at all times. I trust in him.

And I trust in me. I’ve always been intuitive, always listened to myself as my guide. I have many doubts as to my ability and my worth, and I know from all I have learned that I have taken these thoughts on board as my own based on the conditions of worth placed on me throughout life. I know that these demons rise up inside me on many an occasion, and this is an ongoing battle I have with me consciously having to give myself a talking to.

Our hearts are touched in so many ways, and are full of pain, sorrow, joy, and of course love. We are all unique, we are all special, and we are enough to just be here, as we are, with open hearts which hear ourselves and others.

There’s a lot we’re listening to in this session, and again, I’m finding a lot of it too much to take in. I seem to retune in again when we talk about Mary being burdened with carrying the Son of God. How must she have felt when she was expected to listen to this message of what God expected from her? She heard this message, not from God, but from an angel acting as an intermediary, making sure that she understood the message, trying to alleviate her fears. Even Joseph needed an intermediary, as he too was visited by an angel. How must he have felt hearing the news that his betrothed was carrying a child and he wasn’t the father? No wonder he needed to have this message clarified. They must have been so brave to listen to and agree to what was asked of them. What must it have been like to face others in their family, or their community? And could they actually have said no? Would God have accepted no as an answer? Would he still manage his will to be done?

So is there a big plan? Do we accept what has or will happen to us as part of a bigger picture? I always try and believe that Edward is with God, that God needed him, there was a job to be done, and who better to ask to help with this than my little firecracker. If anyone could get a job done, just get on with it, no messing … that’s my boy. I know that Edward is up there somewhere rushing through like the hurricane he was, shaking everyone up.

I hear so often from others that I am strong; I’m told I’m courageous. I don’t think I am. To be courageous you have to choose to be so; I didn’t get a choice in all that happened to me. I have to carry on for my boys. I pray for strength to carry out what I feel is the right thing to do. I don’t necessarily know whether the right thing to do is within me, or if God is working within me. I have a compulsion to do what I feel I need to do, I do the work of the charity, I raise awareness, I help others through my writing and I hope to help others with learning to be a counsellor. This feeling is so strong I find it hard to describe. This is my mission; this is my calling. Is this my continuing bond with Edward; is this my own strength; or is this part of a bigger plan?

There is so much to understand, and we need this understanding, this light to lead the way in the darkness. I am thankful for all I have, and had, I am grateful for what I see in others, conscious of feelings which surface, and am mindful to pay attention to these. There are so many things we all have going on which we are burdened with which we so desperately want to offload. Can we offload them to others, can we offload them to God? Let us focus on what we might need now, and tomorrow, and ask God for help, remembering to listen for an answer. And that answer may be in the form of help from a friend, or a stranger; or the answer may be in ourselves, in our very core.

I have made a promise to myself that I will start a gratitude journal … I make this promise to myself, and it will likely turn out to be an ordinary journal … where I offload the good and the bad as I usually do. It may be ordinary, but it will be my ordinary, and as such it will be special to me. Again, this is what I thought of as Deacon Kim mentions about praying backwards through your day, reflecting on what has happened and “Rummaging for God”.

Often when we need help the most, we are in a dark place, and the light is someone helping, or maybe seeing the light ourselves and finding out who we are deep within. Searching our soul is where we discover the most.

We move on to talk about how in the ancient East, Kings were often referred to as shepherds. David was reminded that God took him from shepherding actual sheep to become king designate ie prince over Israel. God was still king of Israel, but David was divinely appointed by God and physically anointed as earthly ruler by the prophet Samuel. And yet God viewed David as a servant.

People who are appointed to high office today are sometimes perceived as the highest authority in their nation. So how can we remind ourselves, and them, that they are appointed to serve? We think about other leaders who we may encounter … supervisors, managers etc. We think whether we have ever had to tell someone in leadership when their plan was not of God. I think about when I have stood up and spoken out, and done the right thing. This takes some courage, but it takes being in tune with ourselves, listening to our heart and our gut, and knowing the right thing to do, however difficult.

We think about the Christmas story again, and how the angels met with so many, acting as a messenger of God, acting as an intermediary. So if a divine messenger appeared to us today, how would we react? I wonder if really these messengers, or these intermediaries, were there to make sure others were listened to, heard, accepted, valued. Yet again, we come back to what I have written about so much lately on how much this matters; how we most want to be listened to, heard, accepted and valued. Isn’t this what we all crave. Maybe it is those who hear us, who truly hear us, that are the divine messengers.

We reflect on our own encounters in life which have challenged us to ditch our chosen lifestyle for a more challenging and rewarding calling. For me, there have been a few. I ditched my full time work years ago when I became a mum. Something inside me called me to be with the children, a need to be with the children. Every milestone and every significant event I was there for them. And every one of those moments is special, particularly having lost one of my children. Giving time to my children has been the gift I have given them, and not one second of that do I regret.

When Edward died I had a calling to reach out and help others. I needed to raise awareness, I needed to found a charity in his name, I needed to raise funds and support other charities, I needed to write and help others this way too. And now I have begun another journey of helping others, through learning to be a counsellor. I do all this for me, I do all this for Edward, but I do all this to help others too.

In the Christian calendar there are specific seasons (eg Lent Advent when we are invited to do a spiritual check up. A time when we ask God to show us when we should take time to consciously develop a listening heart. I know I do this, through my charity work, through my writing, through my counselling skills, and through being a mum, but with all I have learned, I now listen to me too. A listening heart is my gift to others, and my gift to me.

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