March 24, 2021

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak . . . James 1:19

In this increasingly noisy world, consider the almost lost art of listening.  We tend to talk over each other, interrupt, or wait for the space between another person’s breath so that we can jump in with what we want to say.  Often our minds are a million miles away while our partner, friend, or child is talking to us.  The ongoing conversations in our own heads prevent us from truly hearing what the other is trying to express.  I wonder how many gifts, how many precious insights, we have failed to receive simply because we did not listen.

To truly listen to others is to acknowledge their presence and their significance.  Listening is an act of honoring someone else and making space for them in our lives because they matter.  We give up a part of ourselves to give to another. Listening offers the gift of attention, and in this white-water world, who of us would not appreciate just a moment of true attention?

In regard to Lent and seasons of transformation, listening is a practice we can “give to” someone else. One way to practice listening is to become more aware of what is directly in front of us and to slow down enough to hear it, whatever it is–a spiritual practice called “audio divina,” or holy listening.  Everything created has a voice, and as we attend to listening to those voices, we practice becoming more attentive to the words a child of God is sharing with us.

We each have a story to tell.  What a gift it is when we make room to listen to another’s story, to hear it not only with our ears but also with our hearts.  That is how Divine Love listens to us.  Blessings~ Rosemary


When the wind blows across your skin, listen.
you might hear the voice of an ancestor
guiding you toward your dream.
When you catch the glimpse of silver
dancing across the waves, listen
for the ancient secret that directs your path.
Listen to the way the breeze forms
grooves in the sand and learn about the symmetry
of your own life. Stop what you are doing
to honor the song of the mockingbird in all
its different languages and know it sings
for you. Listen to the way the pelican
rides on the currents or glides
across a cloudless sky, inviting you
to let go.
Listen to your own heartbeat,
what it calls you to remember
and listen to the voice of the one
seeking that same heart.
Listen to the hibiscus when it
unfurls its orange petals to receive
the Light, holding its breath at its own glory
and be amazed at each bright word
it utters. Become the sacred vessel
that treasures each sound it’s given
with reverent wonder.

© Rosemary McMahan


March 19, 2021

One year ago, on March 13, 2020, the first case of Coronavirus was reported.  Our governor announced that all schools would immediately close for three weeks.  On March 16, businesses began closing and sending their employees home to work.  On March 18, statewide orders prevented gatherings of more than 25 people, closed beaches, and postponed primary elections.  On March 27, all businesses deemed non-essential were ordered to close for three weeks. That order was extended. By April 1, the state hit a milestone of 1000 confirmed cases, and on April 3, the governor imposed a stay-at-home order for the rest of the month.  While the word “unprecedented” gained a new, and negative, meaning, the redbuds bloomed.

Redbud trees are native to eastern North America from southern Michigan south to central Mexico, and east to New Jersey. Species thrive as far west as California and as far north as southern Ontario.  The pink to magenta-colored blossoms last about three weeks, and when not in bloom, redbud leaves are heart-shaped.  Their time in bloom is “ephemeral,” a Greek word that originally meant “lasting one day.”  Blossoms and wildflowers that appear briefly are fleeting and reflect the transitory nature of all life.  Redbuds are also my favorite spring tree.

Last year, as we walked into the unfamiliar and frightening period of lockdown, I noticed the redbuds more than I have at any other time in my life.  The initial months of the spread of Covid terrified me as I worried about my own family and their health and watched the numbers rise.  There were moments when I could do nothing more than stare out my windows, and it was in those precious moments that my eyes settled on the beauty of the redbuds, their splash of color a symbol of hope amidst the bare branches of winter.  Redbuds reminded me that everything happening in our world, in my own world, was transitory, fleeting, and that resurrection happens.

One year later, the deaths attributed to Covid in our state alone are over 10,000, and people are still dying.  On April 7, our governor has decreed that the mask mandate will end and everything can reopen fully.  That statement alone makes me anxious because I believe we are acting too quickly.  Yet, the redbuds are back in bloom, just for a brief time, and in that ephemeral space, they beckon me to ask if I am a different person than I was this time last year, and the answer is that in some ways, yes, I am.  I am keenly aware of how little control I have in this life.  I am keenly aware of the bittersweet and poignant significance of my loved ones.  I understand in a way I never did how miraculous each moment is because that moment, no matter what it contains, is fleeting, ephemeral, and can never return exactly as it was.  There was a time when I did not pay attention to the exquisite wonder of a redbud blossom, and now I savor each day it deigns to delight me.

Will my more focused and appreciative attention span continue as the world tries to rise from the ashes and return to its noisy, feverish self?  I pray so.  It is my Lenten hope that I can continue to listen to the song of the redbuds, even when they are no longer in bloom.  Blessings to you. ~ Rosemary