AfterWords is a series of community-contributed reflections intended to further the conversations that begin during Parish sermons.
A 3-Minute Read
by Beth Nelson
An Examen of Auditory Experience
“The miracle of Pentecost is that the church was able to speak in languages other people understood.” If you were at The Parish on Sunday, you heard Jordan say this. And I know you heard him because an echo of “mmm’s” reverberated around the room.
I invite you into an Examen of what has reached your ears recently.
Begin by letting your body grow still for a moment. Take at least three deep, slow breaths. Close your eyes. Rest, if even for a few breaths.
Ask the Holy Spirit to lead your memory and your thinking. The Spirit knows you better than you know yourself and is your loving intercessor with the Father. Don’t overthink any of these questions—trust that God is bringing up what He wants to bring up, and go with whatever comes.
What have you heard in the last 24 hours? What words, sounds, music, or conversations stand out in your memory?
Which of these voices or sounds led you toward worship, love, service, or evoked the fruits of the Spirit?
Give God thanks for His voice coming to you in this way.
Were there other voices or sounds that led you toward fear, selfishness, greed, or otherwise away from the Spirit of God?
How might these voices be drawing you toward lesser forms of power than that which the Holy Spirit offers?
Imagine yourself offering those lesser powers to the enthroned Christ, laying them down at His feet.
What words have you spoken in the past day? Ask the Lord to highlight the words you spoke that were from Him and express your gratitude to Him for speaking through you.
If you’ve spoken words out of your flesh, offer those to the Lord as well, and receive His abundant forgiveness.
As you look to the day ahead, consider the specific people with whom you will interact, both those you know (family, friends, coworkers) and those you may not (cashiers, customers, some of your neighbors). Invite God to show you ways you might speak words of life to someone today. For a few moments, imagine yourself in conversation with the person. Ask God also to show you how to listen deeply, showing the person love by seeking to understand well.
Close your time by remembering the Prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.