Beginning, Take 586

Prayer flags on Renjo LaIt’s been an internal mantra for months now:  What are you doing with your blog?  Why haven’t you posted lately?  Why do you even keep it out there…as evidence of something you’ve quit?

The answer to these and all categories of self-condemnation of course is to decide to let it go, or begin again.

So here goes.

I’m going to try responding in my blog to the daily writings of Henry Nouwen that I’m following in a Lenten devotional entitled:  Christ Our Hope.

From today’s message:

Listening Among the Din

Prayer is the discipline of listening to that voice of love.  Jesus spent many nights in prayer listening to the voice that had spoken to him at the Jordan River.  We too must pray.  Without prayer, we become deaf to the voice of love and become confused by the many competing voices asking for our attention.  How difficult this is!  When we sit down for half an hour — without talking to someone, listening to music, watching television or reading a book — and try to become very still, we often find ourselves so overwhelmed by our noisy inner voices that we can hardly wait to get busy and distracted again.

Nouwen goes on to describe the activity of our inner voices as monkeys jumping between limbs in a tree.  My monkeys seem to also pelt me with bananas in the form of a barrage of criticism about everything from my work ethic to what I ate for breakfast.  Interesting that those voices never say things like Look at you, up for two hours and having already balanced your checkbook!  Or , I see you’ve met the newsletter deadline for 3 months in a row now!

Being still to listen for half an hour seems like a very long time to me.  If prayer is listening for the voice of love, I wonder what that time that precedes it is called — that time in which it seems the bananas are flying and the voices in my head hold before me all the ways I am falling short.

The warm-up?  Maybe.  I do know this.  I never need the voice of love as much as when I’ve just been beat up by the voice of self-condemnation.

Interesting that for Jesus, the voice of love came first.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

And the condemnation followed:  Crucify Him.

Perhaps the trick is to begin with the end in mind:  He is Risen.

Come Lord Jesus, whisper me well.



  1. We’re so good at the self-criticism, eh? Hear the voice from the heavens, you are my beloved, with you I am well-pleased.


  2. I remember, well, learning to sit in the stillness, and wait while my inner voice had its jolly time swinging from tree to tree. All the while, the nuns around me sat ever so still in what appeared to be peaceful communion with that ever elusive voice. And the incessant tick-tock of the chapel clock as the seconds dragged on till the hour was up. I wondered what did they DO all that time while I fidgeted and fussed with my inner self. It took me years – yes – years to learn how to become still within. And now my soul yearns for the stillness as surely as my body needs water for life. Thanks for the reminder to spend the time to hear His voice of love – it’s the very act of going to Him that means the most anyway!


  3. Look at you, up for two hours and having already balanced your checkbook! We’ll help because we love you and believe in you. 🙂 Getting quiet is so freakin’ hard, and not just because of the inner voices. The cacophony which surrounds us all the time is so unrelentingly present. Prayer, meditation … the more I need it, the harder it is to get into the zone. Always.


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