Listening

Several times over the years I have done a full silent retreat. The duration was usually for five days, although on a couple of occasions these retreats went for eight days. Each time the pattern has always been the same. In the beginning I look forward to getting away and having some peace and quiet. However, I then always find the first two days on retreat to be hard. The silence is uncomfortable, and I want to look for distractions-radio, television, novels, music, movies etc. But then from the third day onwards I become more comfortable with the silence. Without the distractions enables me to see more clearly as to what really matters and what does not and ultimately, I start to get a sense of what God is asking of me. Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Lent where the Gospel tells the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. At the end we hear the words from God, ‘This is my Son, the beloved. Listen to him.’ These words represent a call, a challenge to us to put aside all our distractions and listen closely to the voice of God in our lives.

In his Transfiguration, Jesus, without changing who he was, became something more. As God’s beloved this is our call as well, to become the best version of ourselves. For this to be possible we must be willing to listen closely to what God is asking of us.

In his book The Second Mountain, author David Brooks speaks about two mountains. The first mountain is one of ambition-to be well educated, to obtain a job with good pay, find the ideal partner, financial security, having a house, furniture and car, to be well thought of, to mix in the right social circles, ensure that the children are well educated and to attain personal happiness. Having climbed the first mountain people can wonder is that all there is? Isn’t there anything more? There is the sense that there is a deeper journey one must take. This is where the second mountain comes in. If the first mountain is one of ambition, climbing the second mountain is one of vocation. Who am I called to be? What am I called to do? He goes on to say that when a person’s life is defined by fervent commitments then they are on that second mountain. This captures what the mountain represents in both the Old and New Testaments. The mountain is a place of listening to the call. This is the lesson that the mountain of Transfiguration seeks to teach us.

A useful analogy for Lent is a marathon. After a marathon one can see clothes and water bottles are strewn on the ground. This represents choices that runners made during a marathon. Anything that is excess must go. Anything that gets in the way of the goal is discarded. This is like what Lent is all about. Anything that is too much, that distracts us from the goal of listening to the voice of God and acting on it in our lives must go.

What are the distractions in our lives that prevent us from becoming something more?