It was a tidbit thrown out as an aside in a discussion–a “scrap” which has had a much fuller and deeper life for me than a lot of other things I heard that day. Facilitating a retreat on “Effective Living” (what, 20-25 years ago?), Sister Elizabeth said in passing, “You know that we are made of the stuff of the earth… So that, when we pray ‘Thy will be done on earth as in Heaven,’ we are including the earth that we are. ‘Thy will be done in this earth that I am as well as the earth all around!’”
It stuck with me. So much so that it gave extra life to some words I was reading from Fr. Albert Haase. Somewhere in the course of his most recent book, Becoming an Ordinary Mystic; Spirituality for the Rest of Us (IVP, 2019), he threw out the old line of “keeping our ear to the ground.”
Sister Elizabeth ringing in my heart and soul, I saw another metaphor for the spiritual formation journey–conveying its essence and nature: keeping our ear to the ground (the earth that we are)… and keeping our ear to the ground of our being.
It’s not easy, I will grant you. Keeping your ear to the ground—listening to what’s going on inside… and all around—demands stillness and some solitude and some humility and a lot of [healthy] self-awareness. There are hard questions to ask and sit with – as, e.g., “why, O Lord, do I react such and such a way when ‘that’ happens?” It demands that we, like Adam (we might call him “Clay” or “Dusty”), come out of hiding—being willing to answer God’s primal question, “where are you?”
In a flyer for one of his programs, Fr. Albert quotes Karl Rahner: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” Frankly, my only argument with such words would be with the word, “future.” Hasn’t this been a call of Christianity and God from the beginning? But, that’s a post for another day – when we’ve got time to unpack and de-mystify mysticism. When we do get to that post, though, I think it will be clear: “keeping our ear to the ground” is or should be a sacred vocation for us all!