Thursday, October 24, 2019

Receptivity

 Editor's note: This is another great contribution from the one and only Holly Vaughan. You can follow her on Twitter here! 

Often when I attend Adoration, I find myself splitting my time between prayer and spiritual reading. The other day the book I happened to take along to the church was my Guide to Benedictine Spirituality for Oblates. I’ve read it several times since becoming at Oblate of Saint Benedict, but never fail to pull new nuggets from its pages.  The page being held by the ribbon marker was an article entitled “Sharing the Mind of Saint Benedict.” Following each article there are questions for reflection that help you put the things you read into practice. One question hit me particularly hard: “How do you understand receptivity?” 

I don’t know that I’ve ever really paused and considered receptivity on it’s own merits before. The dictionary defines it as:able or inclined to receive especially : open and responsive to ideas, impressions, or suggestions.” So while I planned to spend the rest of Adoration reading, I actually spent it praying about this one question. The question in the book was referring to the ways we could be receptive to the teachings of Saint Benedict, and to the mind of Christ. But receptivity is something, I think, that we should be working on and fostering in many ways in our everyday life. It is something that can help us show the love of Christ. 

Think of some of the ways we block receptivity to those around us - thinking we already know all the answers and not really listening to someone who offers their help; being frustrated that someone doesn’t know as much as we think they should and becoming impatient; rash judgment of the person or situation we encounter; not taking a few minutes to listen to the young child that can’t wait to share some news or a treasure they found, or not taking seriously the problems of a teenager that seem small to you, but are huge to them; thinking of your next response instead of listening to what the person across from you is saying; or simply being too busy for the person who loves you and wants some of your time. All of these are ways that we are unreceptive to the people in our lives. 

And what about God? Do we notice the “God moments” in our day? Sometimes things just fall into place, or we are at the right place at the right time, or have the right words for a given situation. God is there and is guiding us to what we need, and providing what other people need through us. Do we notice it? Are we open to it? Do we take some time is silence each day to listen for God in our hearts, or read His Word and let Him speak to us? Many of us are surrounded by different types of noise, often of our own making, from the time we get up until the time we go to bed. Being receptive to God is something we must work at every day.

What is the solution? Well, that’s what I asked Jesus as I sat in Adoration that day. Three virtues came to mind: humility, love, and charity. As I look back over what I wrote down while praying, and what I have written here I can see how those virtues fit as solutions to the above issues. All three of those virtues encourage us to focus outward, to consider and care for the needs of others, and to love them with Christ’s love. Being receptive to the Lord and His gifts, and faithful in prayer, will help us to build those virtues, and in turn become more receptive to both God and neighbor. We will learn, as Saint Benedict instructs, to listen with the ear of our hearts. 



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