This past week, on July 23rd, we celebrated the feast day of St. Bridget of Sweden. Though St. Bridget may not be as well-known as other saints, her wisdom has truly resonated with me.
The first time I heard of St. Bridget was a few years ago when I was surfing the channels on the TV. Not finding anything of interest, I put down the remote control to use the bathroom. When I came back, I was tuned in to the tail end of a program on St. Bridget. I learned that God spoke to St. Bridget frequently during her lifetime. When asked about this phenomenon, St. Bridget replied, “God speaks to all of us, it’s just that most of us don’t know how to listen.”
When I heard this phrase, I thought, “She is so right.” It got me thinking that I really, really wanted to learn how to listen to God, but I didn’t know where to begin. Not long after, I read something by Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic where he said that God speaks to us in very ordinary ways. God doesn’t speak to us in a loud booming voice, he said, but through a soft whisper. The problem is most of us have too many voices vying for our attention. Every day we are bombarded with the voices of advertisers, news media, social media, and society at large. Often there is so much “noise” in our heads that we can’t even hear ourselves think, let alone hear what God is trying to tell us.
That’s when I realized that if I was going to learn how to listen to God, I was going to have to nurture my prayer life. In order to develop a closer relationship with God, I was going to have to spend more time with him. Matthew Kelly refers to prayer as “the classroom of silence.” I like this phrase because it helps me to focus on prayer time as a time to learn from God and listen to what He is telling me through my life experiences and my relationships with others. I have found that the more time I sit in silence and prayerfully reflect on my life, the more successful I am in my life and the more joyful my life is.
Long ago, when Elijah was standing on the mountain waiting for the Lord, he looked for the Lord in “a strong and violent wind, but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12) Let’s face it, like Elijah, we’d all like God to communicate with us through a loud, thunderous voice. It’d make life’s decisions so much easier. Yet, just as Elijah found, I have discovered that God talks to us from within, through a knot in our stomachs or a tug on our heartstrings. We spend so much of our lives looking for the extraordinary, but God is found in the ordinary, everyday life all around us. We just have to learn how to listen.
Deb Egan grew up in a Catholic family. Throughout her adult life, she has participated as a church volunteer in many capacities, including teaching Religious Education, being a Eucharistic Minister and Lector, Ministering to the elderly and homebound, and Facilitating Small Faith Groups. She has been trained by Evangelical Catholic and became a member of the Build the Faith Team in April of 2017.