Art and Prayer,  Praying Scripture

Listening and Hearing

I’m at our daughter’s home meeting our newest granddaughter, Sylvia, and helping out with her and two-year-old William this week, which means not much downtime, but lots of laughter with a toddler and sweet snuggles with a newborn. Our wonderful son-in-law, Howard, wanted to be sure I got some of the alone time I need, so he hung a hammock chair in the woodland garden he has been making in their woods, and I spent some time sketching there this afternoon.

As I sketched a couple of trees, I enjoyed the sound of many birds ringing through the dense woods. Mostly what I heard were the nearly continuous, loud singing of a pair of Carolina Wrens, an equally vociferous Cardinal, the cheerful song of a couple of Robins, and the strident calling of a Phoebe. But then my ear caught the faint sound of a warbler in the distance. I listened carefully and after a minute or so heard it again- a Northern Parula, one of my favorite warblers. It was faint enough that if I weren’t familiar with warbler songs I would probably not have detected it at all over the nearer and insistent vocalizations of the more common songbirds. And if I hadn’t reviewed warbler songs each spring, I might not have known which species I was hearing.

How often do I miss Jesus’ words because I am distracted by the louder, more insistent voices that clamor for my attention both from outside and from within my own mind? How familiar with and tuned to the voice of Jesus am I?

“The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John 10: 2-4

Like reviewing warbler songs every spring, I also need to regularly refresh my memory, renewing my mind with Scripture and listening for Jesus’ words that he speaks to me through the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to miss his gentle and quiet voice.


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