Monday, April 5, 2021

With Quiet Hearts

I gently rocked my baby as I stood in the church, dark save for the flickering candles that the members of the congregation held. The bonfire had been lit, the Exsultet had been proclaimed, and now we prepared for a marathon of Scripture readings that walk through salvation history. My pastor's voice rang out, instructing us: 

"...let us listen with quiet hearts to the Word of God."

And the question hit me: Can I listen with a quiet heart? 

Perhaps due to my love for stories, I try to fit together pieces of life and construct a narrative while something is happening. A phrase catches my ear and ah! This is a sign from God. I will insert it here, and then inevitably this one thing will happen, leading to those events, and so on. Happy at the tidy story I have created in the blink of an eye, I will sit back and prepare to watch my life unfold exactly as I have mapped it out--and then I hear it:

"...with quiet hearts."

Maybe, rather than my love of story, what propels me to compulsively connect the dots is my stubborn pride and desire for control. I feel the need to control my life, control my future, control the narrative. Therefore, I will decide what events have deep meaning and which ones can pass by unnoticed. I will wrest great significance out of small moments, my mind and heart constantly at work building and crafting tales. As I do this, I hear the challenge: 

"...with quiet hearts."

After the sadness of celebrating Easter with Mass livestreams in 2020, I was thrilled to celebrate the Triduum with our parish family. Yet, while I grinned and cheerfully walked into church on Saturday night, I entered that Vigil Mass with some baggage. Holy Week had been wonderful, but trying in some ways--and I find that hardships have a way of lingering and weighing heavily. As I stood in the candlelit church, trying to focus on the gift of being there (in the church! With other people!), the noise of the week tugged my mind in every direction. 

"...with quiet hearts."

My heart was anything but quiet that night, but as I heard Father speak those words, I resolved to try and soften the noise: to still my mind and heart so that I could hear God's Truth. To let go of my agendas, my plans, my desires, my schemes and instead reach out with open hands to receive God's Word.  

Can I quiet my heart to receive what God has to offer me?

Can I recognize that God's story is infinitely better than any tale I can create? 

Can I stop trying to control things that I can't control and simply allow God to work? 

I spent the 2 1/2-hour Liturgy asking myself these questions. I listened, I prayed, I watched people get baptized and confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time. I smiled, happy to simply be in this holy place with friends, acquaintances, and people I've never met. And I tried--oh, how I tried!--to quiet my heart. But, truth be told, I struggled. 

As I jump into this glorious season of Easter, these three words nudge me, inviting me to drop the baggage and weariness that rattle around in my mind. These three words call out, reminding me to let go of my need for control as I recall that God is in control. Rather than fighting to connect all the dots, I simply need to cooperate as I let Him tell the story; His story of salvation, love, and mercy. 

Can I listen with a quiet heart? I don't know--but at least I can try. 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, AnneMarie! I was so happy to be inside for Easter vigil too (the Exsultet was so well done!), but found myself a bit restless and distracted too. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but tried to really soak it up and enjoy it after being forced to watch from home last year. What a good reminder!