The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Leaning forward to listen

Four Christian artists share how God speaks in imagination and wonder

"I neglect God and His angels for the noise of a fly, for the rattling of a coach, for the whining of a door," lamented 16th-century British poet, John Donne, of the distractions that pulled him from prayer. For us it's worse. Ringing phones, stuffed schedules, noisy commutes, and the ever-present TV and other addictive electronic devices create much more noise than the simple preindustrial distractions that troubled Donne.

To become faithful listeners attuned to God, we need imagination and wonder. They help tune out the buzz of modern life, opening our ears to the ways God speaks to us. Without imagination, the wonder that surrounds a mysterious God evaporates.

The following insights from four Christian artists can help you polish your spiritual listening skills. They've learned to listen with imagination and wonder: world-class calligrapher Timothy R. Botts; Emory University professor and author Roberta Bondi; Benedictine nun and author Joan Chittister; and contemporary hymn and liturgical composer Marty Haugen. As Christian artists, they have learned ways to lean forward to listen to God.

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February issue


Embracing diversity