1 Kings 3:3-14
It is night at Gibeon and King Solomon dreams. In the inner world of the dreamscape, images and words get put together in ways that may not make sense in ordinary waking consciousness.
The human heart, for example, doesn’t really have ears, except that it might in dreams or in Salvador Dali paintings. In Solomon’s dream he asks God for “a listening heart,” a “lev shomeah” in Hebrew. Our translation offers a rather prosaic distortion of this very poetic image: rather than “listening heart”, we heard “understanding mind”. Which is not a bad thing to desire, but what Solomon asks for is a “listening heart”.
In asking for “a listening heart”, the man with a thousand wives and concubines anticipates monastic vows by about 1500 years. A “listening heart” is what the vow of obedience is all about. “Obedience” is rooted in the idea of listening or hearing—but we speak poetically, metaphorically. We “listen” with our whole being: we listen with our ears, with “listen” with our eyes, with all our senses, and with all the mind’s understanding. “Obedience”, in the contemplative sense, is a basic orientation toward life, a stance or disposition; it’s the way we live and move and have our being in God: in “obedience” we become essentially receptive beings (even if we have 10,000 wives and concubines). We soak it all up; we take it all in. We’re all ears.
What our listening hearts most long to hear, what we most desire to receive into our whole being is the Word of God. The Word of God spoken in all creation, the Living Word of God conceived in the wombs of our hearts, in the wombs of our listening hearts, the Word of God which is very near you. The Word of God which is treasured in our hearts and gestates and comes to fruition in Christ manifest in and through us–the Word made flesh yet again.
All things visible and invisible are spoken by this Word. Not just churchy things or churchy-sounding words, but all things audible and inaudible, all things felt or smelt or neither felt nor smelt. The Living Word of God comes to us through every single thing the Word speaks into existence, animate and inanimate, trivial and momentous, great and small, near and far.
If these listening hearts of ours were to actually hear all the Word is speaking, it would be as a shimmering, luminous thunder such as we have never heard or even dreamed of. And as intoxicating a fragrance as we can imagine.
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