When Jesus called the disciples to walk with him to Jerusalem, into the
Garden of Gethsemane, to the cross, and ultimately to the joy and promise
of the resurrection, the disciples had to listen with more than their ears
to really hear that call. They listened through their eyes by watching
Jesus in action. They listened with their hearts as Jesus' very words
stirred deep within them. They listened with their sense of smell as the
woman anointed Jesus with fragrant perfume, and they listened with their
sense of taste as together they ate bread and drank wine with Jesus in the
upper room. In order to really hear, one has to listen with her or his
That was the reality I experienced during my journey in El Salvador last year. Invited to the sacred ground of the indigenous Salvadorans, I was deeply moved when asked to participate in a purification/cleansing ritual. The sound of the crackling fire, the odor of incense, and the chants of the Shaman enveloped me and drew me into the sacredness of that space. I listened intently to all taking place around me. At least I thought I was listening!
As the Shaman invited each of us, one at a time, to enter their Hogan (the sacred worship space), his invitation concluded with the words "Listen for God while you are in the Hogan, for God will speak to you in this place."
My thoughts were on how the gravel hurt my bare feet when I first entered that holy place. After several steps, however, I was not even aware that I was walking on gravel because I was so focused on realizing God's presence in that place. The Shaman said to listen for God's words to us in the Hogan, but I was unable to hear those words with any clarity, and felt disappointment that I wasn't centered enough to hear God in that special place.
When I exited the Hogan and put my sandals back on, I realized that my feet were tingling. It was a sensation that stayed with me for days. I remember thinking that my feet had been blessed in that place, blessed for a purpose. In reflection, I am certain that I have been called to walk with those who suffer. I couldn't, or maybe wouldn't, hear God's words to that effect, so God spoke to me through my feet.
Only a God of infinite patience and love, who came to us as a human being, would find a way to speak to a reluctant disciple, so that, finally, that disciple would hear. Words weren't heard. Sights and smells didn't sink in. So gravel underfoot, in the most unlikely of places, became a means of hearing God, just as a cross on the hill called Golgotha became a means of hearing God.
I continue to listen for God's voice in my life. I know, however, that the voice of God speaks in many ways--so I strive to listen with my whole being since I never know through which sense God's voice will be heard.