A Valentine’s gift suggestion for you spouses out there, a meditation on Psalm 95:
“If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart.”
Just for today, if you are a wife, substitute “husband” for “God;” husbands, think of her voice, that of your wives.
For, in truth, aren’t we called to hear God in the people around us? In truth, isn’t the biggest struggle to do that with the person who shares our bed and our table? The one we feel we don’t really need to listen to so much, because we already know that person so thoroughly, after all the years together?
(If, in truth, you have a perfect marriage and have never, not even once, shut out your spouse, skip this article and go eat chocolates or something.)
For the rest of us, the writer Michael Casey warns of four actions which, if done repeatedly, result in “the surface of the heart toughening. Nothing can get thorough to it.” While he was speaking to monastics about God, as a married person, I could not avoid applying Casey’s observations to my relationship with my spouse, which is a big part of our path to God. It wasn’t such a comfortable realization, but an honest one. Maybe it will ring a little true for you, too.
Casey, in his book The Road to Eternal Life, names some times when we move towards a heart that does not hear. It happens when we shut out the other, not always in a conscious decision, but because we get lazy. Listening can be hard work. It also happens because we don’t really know ourselves, when we fail to understand our own faults. And, because we don’t know ourselves, we don’t accept who we are. We project our failings onto those close to us. Too often, onto our spouses. All guaranteed heart-hardeners.
What most caught my eye was what Casey calls the danger of “the pursuit of trifles.” It’s not that we choose such bad things, but our time and energy is limited. How we spend them reflects the status of our listening heart. Do I really need to read another chapter of my book, even a spiritual one, right this minute? Maybe I am being called to spend time listening, really listening, to Johnny?
The remedy for all of this, Casey says, is to “be awake and alert to the call of God that comes to us every day through so many channels, calling us to life.” Comes to those of us who are married through the grace of the sacrament of matrimony.
“If today we hear our Beloved’s voice, harden not our hearts.”
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Martha Popson Blog