Feast of Saint Scholastica
1 Kings 11:29-32; 12:19
I pray to follow God’s will and be God’s instrument, but it would be a whole lot easier if God would tell me clearly and specifically what to do to accomplish that. There are so many decisions, big and small. Do I go to an event at the parish or should I take some quiet time at home? Do I sign up for this retreat or that one? Should I make the time to write a book or devote more time to teaching? What I really want from God is a text message, an IM, an iPad app, a TED video, or something that spells out what I should do. Surely with the array of digital media available, God could find a way to use one of them.
But then I remember Evelyn Glennie of Scotland. She gradually lost her hearing as a child until by the age of 12 she was profoundly deaf. She loved percussion instruments – marimba, drums, and more – and she loved music. Could she still play?
Not only does Evelyn play, she graduated from the Royal Academy of Music (after a fight to be considered for her talent apart from her hearing disability), won a Grammy and a whole host of other music awards, and is the first person in modern times to make a living as a solo percussionist. How does she do it? She says she simply learned a different way to "hear" the music. She regularly plays barefoot so she can feel the rhythm through her feet, and she talks of how particular pitches resonate in different places – a spot on her right index finger, for example. She "hears" the music through her body, her skin, her fingers and toes, and her heart. When she plays, she truly feels the music and the result is profoundly beautiful.
Listening to Evelyn, I realize how severely I am limiting God. After all, God doesn’t speak to us in a voice coming through an iPod, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t speaking constantly. I need to develop different ways of "hearing" the music that God plays always and everywhere. I need to allow God to soften my hard heart so it vibrates to the divine tune. I need to "listen" with all of my faculties, all my senses, all my body, mind, and soul.
Jesus made the deaf hear and the mute speak. Yet he didn’t force them; he answered their desire. Perhaps if I can develop such a desire to hear God’s voice that nothing can stand in my way, if I can attune my entire being toward the music with which God surrounds me, then perhaps my deafness will cease to be a disability and I too will hear the divine voice of God.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.amyflorian.com/.