The Voice of God
AS WE SLOW DOWN to hear our breathing, we can become aware of an inner vastness opening up, a new dimension to our awareness. This is the beginning of an awareness of the holy presence of God. Within that space we can become alert to God guiding and strengthening us, aware of His voice. We slowly become aware of Him as our strength and our song.
When I first began to give retreats in Orthodox churches, I gave one in Washington, D.C. After speaking for a while on the topic of God’s voice, I gave the participants index cards and asked them to describe an experience they’ d had of “hearing the voice of God,” not with their ears but with an inner intuition that God was mysteriously making His presence known.
I had never done such an exercise with an Orthodox group and had misgivings, thinking the approach might be too evangelical or too demanding. To my surprise, all the participants began writing energetically, and I heaved a sigh of relief. When they finished, I asked if anyone wanted to share what they had written. A young priest in the back shot up his hand. I asked him to come up to the front and share his notes.
He began with a sentence I will never forget: “I heard God’s voice in a PathMark [a large grocery chain].” I knew one thing at that moment. I knew I had never heard God’s voice in a PathMark, although I had been shopping in one many times.
The priest went on to say that, while he was standing in the checkout line, the woman in front of him gave her eleven-year-old daughter a dollar and pointed to the homeless man standing by the door. The girl went to the homeless man, gave him the dollar, and came back to her mother. The mother shook her head, whispered something in the girl’s ear, and again pointed to the homeless man. The girl went to the man, gave him a hug, and returned to her mother. Her mother then gave her a hug. The priest said he heard God telling him that this was the way he ought to treat poor people.
That scene could happen to any of us. A mother teaches her daughter a lesson in loving outreach. Period. And what a lovely lesson for the daughter and the bystanders to learn! However, the priest was making an extravagant claim. He was claiming that, for him, it was not a lesson in altruism but an experience of God speaking directly to him through the actions of the mother and daughter. The priest’s interpretation is that of faith, which makes all the difference.
We can see our experiences through the eyes of nature-as acts of altruism-or through the eyes of faith-as God’s voice, as the priest had. Perhaps that is what the Lord meant when He said, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears for they hear” (Matt. 13:16). Are we growing in our ability to see and hear God’s voice in daily life?
~Albert S. Rossi, Becoming a Healing Presence