And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. (Luke 16)

I remember a basketball game my son played in. It seemed to me that he worked hard. Made some plays. He ran the length of the court, got to some loose balls, passed to breaking team mates, but rarely did he get a return pass. Rarer still, did he get an original pass.

I recall my hurt for him, my anger at the other boys, and my embarrassment as I sat among the other parents; and I recall my mix of shame and annoyance at feeling any of this at a simple, “for fun league”, basketball game.

The eyes of parents are filtered. When I talked to him afterwards he said that he was disappointed in his play, but felt no animosity towards the other players. He chalked it up to a bad game and figured to do better next time. I on the other hand, having endured the gravity of a bad hour and a half, felt wrung out.

I think I see more clearly now. Not that I’ve eclipsed agonizing or even being petty about events like this, only that I’m more apt to listen to the experience. And not get played so easily.

The first word of St. Benedict’s Rule is “listen”. In Latin, obsculta. It’s where we get our word obedience. Here’s Benedict’s first line: “Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

The idea is to let nothing go by, no event, no moment, from wondrous to depressive, without listening and learning from its interior.

Make friends with every mess in your life, not to control but to grow and live. Allow yourself to be nourished by mystery and possibility.

So when we find ourselves in the waste spaces of life, even there, where it feels as though nothing is left for us, we might at least remember to wait and not flail, hope and not hate.

Life is not the domination of a series of events. Life is carefully attending to our days learning to listen with the ear of our heart.

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