Listen with the Heart: Sacred Moments in Everyday Life

Overview

There are moments in life that are either too numbing or too exhilarating, too sad or too exciting for us to absorb. Death and marriage, loss and victory can overwhelm us. There are times that are too emotionally demanding or, on the other hand, simply too common to comprehend: beauty in the midst of tragedy can leave us speechless; the most meaningful of routines can leave us untouched. Throughout the highs, lows, and in-between times we need to be carried beyond the immediacy of the moment to realize the deeper...

See more details below
Paperback (New Edition)
$11.65
BN.com price
(Save 22%)$14.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (19) from $5.59   
  • New (16) from $8.68   
  • Used (3) from $5.59   
Listen with the Heart: Sacred Moments in Everyday Life

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49
BN.com price
(Save 29%)$14.95 List Price

Overview

There are moments in life that are either too numbing or too exhilarating, too sad or too exciting for us to absorb. Death and marriage, loss and victory can overwhelm us. There are times that are too emotionally demanding or, on the other hand, simply too common to comprehend: beauty in the midst of tragedy can leave us speechless; the most meaningful of routines can leave us untouched. Throughout the highs, lows, and in-between times we need to be carried beyond the immediacy of the moment to realize the deeper elements that underlie our lives. Listen with the Heart is a profound and personal invitation to savor the sacred in everyday life. Drawing from her formation as a Benedictine sister and her international experience as a writer, speaker, and retreat leader, Sr. Joan Chittister connects the ancient wisdom of monasticism with the modern world. In each chapter she teaches us that rituals—those formal patterns of behavior that mark the crossover moments of time and make them sacred—can jolt the soul and wake us up to life. Through ritual, as Chittister reveals, not only are the moments of life celebrated, mourned, and noted, but also the sacred elements in experience are made real. Meditations on and examples of blessing, light, Lent, fasting, silence, prayer, naming, community, rituals, music, table fellowship, wisdom, the mystery of death, and the power of waiting equip readers to make the most of each and every day. Listen with the Heart is an invitation to all of us to seek the sacred, appreciate the ups, learn from the downs, and make the mundane meaningful again.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Network For Women's Spirituality
In the latest of her 20 books, Joan tells a simple story from an everyday situation and then includes many meditations and insightful phrases to ponder and enjoy.
Robert Ellsberg
Drawing on the treasury of monastic wisdom, Joan Chittister reveals the hidden holiness that lies within the rituals and passages of life. Listen with the Heart is a gift and a blessing.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580511391
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 136
  • Sales rank: 333,378
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.41 (h) x 0.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Joan D. Chittister, O.S.B., is a Benedictine sister, best-selling author, and a well-known international speaker. A theologian, social psychologist, and communication theorist, she has written more than 20 books, taught on all education levels, received nine honorary doctorates, and is an active member of the International Peace Council. A leader in worker's justice, international peace initiatives, women's movements for equality, Sr. Joan is founder and Executive Director of Benetvision: A Resource and Research Center for Contemporary Spirituality, past president of the Conference of American Women Religious, and in 2007, she was awarded the Outstanding Leadership Award from The Leadership Conference of Women Religious. She lives in Erie, PA, in a Benedictine community.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Listen with the Heart

Sacred Moments in Everyday Life


By Joan Chittister

ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD PUBLISHERS, INC.

Copyright © 2003 Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-58051-139-1



CHAPTER 1

Blessing

Numbers 6:24

May God bless you and keep you; may God's face shine upon you and be gracious to you; may God look upon you kindly, and give you peace.


The scene had become a relatively common one. The community—younger sisters and old—stood with hands outstretched over the sister kneeling in the center of the chapel as they had so many times before. She was going into a war zone in Central America to accompany dislocated peasants on the long walk through occupied territory back to their lands. The community was blessing her. Suddenly I began to think of all the other blessings we do just as regularly, just as solemnly.

On the feast of the Epiphany, the community goes from area to area in the monastery blessing the house, blessing each room as they go.

After prayer every morning and evening, the prioress blesses the community.

Every year, in recognition of the fact that the Rule of Benedict calls for the blessing of those who are called to community service, we gather as a community 1,500 years later for the ceremony of the Blessing of Ministries.

We have blessed our new Garden of Memories that enshrines for us the memory of our dead, our new inner-city program facilities and our three hermitages in the woods.

As long as I can remember, we have blessed the Christmas tree each year. And we bless the women as they enter our community and those who are breathing their last in it.

And now the community has begun the practice of holding prayer vigils at sites of recent homicides in our city to bless that violent place with new peace.

In fact, we bless everything in sight. Why? Because blessings are the life breath of those who believe in the sacredness of space and place, all things and life.

Blessing is an ancient custom which, perhaps, could profit a people who live under schedules that leave us breathless and unsatisfied, who are surrounded by technology that promises more than it gives, who find themselves in such unrelenting pursuit of the good life that it so easily blurs the good in the present life.

Blessings are the visible demonstration of faith in the goodness of the God whose blessings are often invisible.

God bless you.


* * *

To bless a thing is to remind ourselves that this very object is one of God's gifts given to bring us to wholeness of life. Once we understand that, we will also realize that it is the way we respond to things in life that makes us holy. Then nothing is for nothing in our lives.


* * *

To bless someone is to recognize as sacred what God recognizes as sacred, an awareness too little called to mind in a world where the self is made to be always more important than the other.


* * *

Blessing is a way of acknowledging that the God who created us goes on lavishing life upon us all our days.


* * *

In ancient Israel, a gift was understood to be a blessing made visible. To give a birthday present, for example, was a way of demonstrating that God's favor for us never ended. It wasn't consumerism gone mad; it wasn't social protocol gone plastic. It was simply living proof that life is genuinely full of God's blessings. How sad to lose that meaning.


* * *

"Every day is a god," Annie Dillard wrote, "each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time." Learning to see that holiness is everywhere we are, is the reason we bless both the obvious and the hidden goods of life.


* * *

Here's the difference between mental stability and mental imbalance: The mentally healthy person is able to see the possible blessing in every event in life.


* * *

Everything in life is a potential blessing. It only depends on how we view it and what we do with it.


* * *

Don't be surprised when what you think is a blessing turns out to be sour. We so often confuse the holy with what is only seductive.


* * *

If you cant find your blessings where you are, don't look for them elsewhere. As Hildegard of Bingen, Benedictine abbess of the twelfth century said, "Holy persons draw to themselves all that is earthly." It's what we're given to work with in life that are our real blessings.


* * *

What we bless we declare to be part of what it takes to makes us holy: houses, people, death, prayer, relationships.


* * *

In order to begin to see the blessings in life, we have to get over cursing everything around us.


* * *

There is such a thing as a negative blessing. What we do not question, for instance, we bless. As the Roman Tacitus wrote on the subject of the assassination of the Emperor Galba: "A shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of a few individuals, with the blessing of more, and amid the passive acquiescence of all." The point is clear: What we see as sacred is one thing. What we do not call attention to as evil is another. Both are blessings of a sort. The only question is which of them we practice.


* * *

Perhaps if we did more blessing of our children and less brutalizing of them, we would have a more peaceful, more gentle generation of children.


* * *

In Jewish tradition, the practice of blessing the other was not reserved to the priests. Parents blessed their children, rulers blessed their people, even Balaam, the outsider, is ordered by Yahweh to bless Israel. We are required, obviously, to be open to the blessings of the other everywhere.


* * *

In Israel, every greeting was a form of blessing. Conversations opened, in other words, by asking God to do good to the person to be addressed. Think about it: If we did that yet today, we would call down good on every person we met before we said another word. It must be pretty difficult to hate someone after that.


* * *

Why do we bless things? Madeleine L'Engle says it well: "There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation." Everything God made is good. To bless it is simply to acknowledge that.


* * *

The ancients never doubted that a blessing, once pronounced, released a force which was beyond the control of the one who said it. It had a power of its own. Now modern psychology tells us that the words we say to another shape their psyche and mark them for life. Clearly, blessings work on levels we never think about. So why did we drop them?


* * *

We are all a means of blessing for one another. You have to want to be a blessing, of course. And who knows? Maybe the problem is not that we don't see the blessings around us. It may be that we fail to see ourselves as blessings. And so we aren't.


* * *

The worthier the person who blesses, the Israelites taught, the more effective the blessing. The lesson was clear: God pours out blessings on us especially through those who are themselves most good. It's just another way of saying that we need to watch the company we keep.


* * *

We are often blessed in ways we can't imagine. Instead of getting what we want, we get what we need. The problem is that it takes longer to understand that what we didn't want is precisely what, in the end, was best for us.


* * *

Biblical blessings express God's generosity, favor and unshakable love. They call on God, who is the source of all life, to give fullness of life now as always. Blessings are, in other words, a pretty good bet.


* * *

Blessing is one of the ways that God makes the presence of God known here and now.


* * *

Blessings are the way we celebrate the everyday goodness of our lives. By reminding ourselves always of the bounty in which we ourselves are immersed, we save ourselves from the burden of coveting the lives of others.


* * *

The practice of blessing the good things of life turns our hearts and our personalities from sour to sweet. When we learn to see the value of what we have, we stop fretting about what we don't have. And were nicer about it, too.


* * *

What if, for just one day, we blessed our animals for their companionship, the children of the neighborhood for the ring of laughter they bring to our streets, the people who serve us and our friends in their struggles? What if someone blessed us with courage for the day and strength for the journey? What if we realized our own role in the calling down of the blessings of God on the things of the earth, the places we live and the work we do? What if blessing became a commonplace again? Then, how would we possibly ever despair of God's presence?


* * *

Blessing is not magic and it is not superstition. It is recognition of the fact that God's wonders are worked for us every day. If we really believe that life is sacred and good and full of the touch of God, isn't it time to start saying so again?


* * *

Don't say that blessing is a priestly activity and has nothing to do with you. To the ancient Jews, the "priestly blessing of Aaron" was a strictly liturgical act. It was on the blessing of one another that the people lived. It's time to begin the cycle of blessing that makes every person and place and thing special, noticed, celebrated.


* * *

The truth is that each of us is necessarily either blessing or curse to the people around us. How much better—both for them and for ourselves—to be a conscious blessing to another than a burden on the way.


* * *

Christina Baldwin wrote, "Ritual is the way we carry the presence of the sacred. Ritual is the spark that must not go out." The right and obligation to bless the world around us is simply another way of making the presence of God present to those who advert only to God's absence.


* * *

"To renew ties with the past need not always be daydreaming," Simeon Strunsky wrote. "It may be tapping old sources of strength for new tasks." In a world in which we cannot have everything, whatever our efforts, we may never have had need of blessings more. Blessings make us realize what we do have and allow us to mark them for the world to see—and learn.


* * *

The seeker whispered, "God, speak to me." And a meadowlark sang. But the seeker did not hear. So the seeker yelled, "God, speak to me!" And the thunder rolled across the sky. But the seeker did not listen. The seeker looked around and said, "God, let me see you." And a star shone brightly. But the seeker did not notice. And the seeker shouted, "God, show me a miracle." And a life was born. But the seeker did not know. So the seeker cried out in despair, "Touch me, God, and let me know that you are here!" Whereupon God reached down and touched the seeker. But the seeker brushed the butterfly away and walked on. Moral: Don't miss out on a blessing because it isn't packaged the way you expect.

CHAPTER 2

Light

Ephesians 5:8

For once you were darkness, but now in God you are light.


It was the year 2000.1 was in a Benedictine monastery in Kenya to give a workshop on the Rule of Benedict. The house was amazingly modern, built in large part with money from Germany, and meant to last. It had a large novitiate wing, marble floors, hot and cold running water, a clinic for the poor and—for six hours every day—no electricity. The only problem was that no one ever knew which six hours the electricity would go off. It could be midday. Sometimes it was in the middle of the night. Often there was no light for Morning Praise at 6:00 a.m. or for Evening Praise at 6:30 p.m. At those times, each sister lit a small candle at her pew. It made me think.

On the Sabbath vigil, our own monastery prayer opens in the darkness of a densely quiet chapel, not because we have no electricity but because we are in need of a spiritual reminder. The community sits in the shadows of the night and waits.

Then, suddenly, quietly, unexpectedly, the acolyte comes silently down the shrouded center aisle that leads to the altar, holding high and straight a candle with its tiny flickering flame. Like centuries of Jewish congregations before us, we stand to bless the Light. Like the moment of creation, the new week begins with a promise of life and growth and insight and the presence of the God who is Light in the darkness and Life in the chaos that is in all our lives.

The liturgical use of light, the reminder of the God who is Energy and Life, is a clear one in our monastery yet. Every Advent we watch together as each week another candle points to the coming of the Light that is Christ. On Christmas Eve we bless the lighting of the Christmas tree that is ever green and always a sign of eternal life. Every Holy Saturday we light the lanterns in the chapel hall designed to lead us to the new light of Easter. Every night of our lives the monastery bell tower is flooded in light, a reminder of the Light that brings life and so makes such a lifestyle of reflection and contemplation both logical and necessary.

Light is clearly the oldest symbol in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The lighting of the Sabbath candles, long before the coming of Christianity, symbolized the presence of the God who is Light. To the rabbis, the light of the candle was at the same time always new, always changing and always the same. It was the ultimate symbol of the God who, in creating humankind out of the substance of Godness, was nevertheless not diminished.

To Christians, light was a sign of new life in Jesus.

And so, we don't use light bulbs or flashlights in chapels, even when the electricity goes out. Even in a technological age. We use candles to this day, the reminder that God is Light, that we are part of the everlasting flame of life, that darknesses everywhere are expelled by the tiniest pinpoints of light. If we will only light them.


* * *

Liturgical light is the reminder to us always that no darkness, either around us or within us, is too deep to expel if we try hard enough to bring even the smallest glimmer of hope. The problem is that we are often far too easily convinced that what we are facing is impossible when in reality it is simply difficult.


* * *

Never accept as darkness anything that, with a little effort—a slight change of mind, a touch of humor—can become light. Or as Loretta LaRoche puts it, "Optimists live longer. Pessimists are more accurate, but optimists live longer."


* * *

Never assume that you can always tell the difference between darkness and light. Some of the most penetrating insights we ever experience come out of the deepest darkness.


* * *

Darkness is the place where the tiniest sliver of light means the most. The smallest act of concern can bring lightness of heart to the one whose soul is blanketed in darkness.


* * *

Light doesn't show us anything new. It only enables us to see what has always been there.


* * *

It's when we face reality head-on that life finally becomes possible, if not exciting. "Light is the first of painters," Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote. "There is no object so foul that intense light will not make it beautiful." What we are willing to deal with well will teach us important things about life, about ourselves.


* * *

Always remember that there's a difference between light and heat. Most disagreements, unfortunately, descend to heat, to argumentative differences, when only light—only clarity, insight, and openness to the other—can really resolve the issue.


* * *

"God's first creature," Francis Bacon wrote, "was light." God left us in light. Don't you wonder why it is that we so often choose darkness instead?


* * *

Sir Muhammad Iqbal makes us pause. He wrote, "Thou didst create the night, but I made the lamp. Thou didst create clay, but I made the cup. Thou didst create the deserts, mountains and forests, I produced the orchards, gardens and groves. It is I who made the glass out of stone, and it is I who turn a poison into an antidote." The point is clear: God gave us the ability to turn the dark spots in life into light. So, why don't we?


* * *

There are two kinds of people: those who spread light and those who spread darkness everywhere they go. Determining into which category we ourselves fall can change the course of life, ours and that of people around us, as well.


* * *

"Only that day dawns," Henry David Thoreau wrote, "to which we are awake." Translation: If you can't shape your soul to see the possible good in a thing, it won't be there no matter how clear it is to everyone else.


* * *

When we bring light into a room, we bring the energy of God into life. "God is light," scripture tells us. So, if we are sincerely seeking God, it's imperative that we position our souls in the light, even when the light of new truth is difficult for us to bear.


* * *

We can't take light for granted. Sometimes we are most in darkness at exactly those moments when we are sure that we are most in the light.


* * *

Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote: My candle bums at both ends; / It will not last the night; / But ah, my foes, and oh, my fiends / It gives a lovely light. Pity the life that has nothing for which burning the candle at both ends is worth it. That is, indeed, a very dark life.


* * *

The excitement of life lies in always pursuing the light. It winds through darkness and ends in the clear. "Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness," Louis Aragon wrote, "and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating."


* * *

We do not live in the light at all times. Waiting for the light is part of the process of learning to appreciate it.


* * *

There is no amount of darkness that can extinguish the inner light. The important thing is not to spend our lives trying to control the environment around us. The task is to control the environment within us.


* * *

To go through life "catastrophizing" everything is to put out the light. Everything in life is not a catastrophe. Most of it is simply normal.


* * *

Loretta LaRoche says that 75 percent of daily conversation is negative. We complain about the weather, the traffic, the schedule and sleep! So, she's printed a bumper sticker that says "Stop Global Whining." Join.


* * *

We feel the way we think. It takes more energy to "awfulize" a thing than it does to deal with it.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Listen with the Heart by Joan Chittister. Copyright © 2003 Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD PUBLISHERS, INC..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Blessing: Numbers 6:24 Chapter 2 Light: Ephesians 5:8 Chapter 3 Fasting: Joel 2:12 Chapter 4 Prayer: Psalm 51:15 Chapter 5 Naming: Isaiah 43:1 Chapter 6 Ordinary Time: Psalm 145:2 Chapter 7 Community: Romans 12:5 Chapter 8 Rituals: Psalm 95:6 Chapter 9 Music: Psalm 150:3-6 Chapter 10 Table Fellowship: Wisdom 16:20 Chapter 11 The Mystery of Death: Psalm 23:4 Chapter 12 Waiting: Isaiah 9:1

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)