In this prayer from the United States Conference of Bishops, we are encouraged to listen to the voice of creation. "Listening to the voice of creation" can be practiced in many ways, including looking at research, paying attention to news reports, trying to see the big picture of what is happening to the earth and its inhabitants, (which are certainly all good and important things to do). But, my suggestion for today is that you try, by using this prayer, your senses, and with God's help, to literally and physically hear the voice of creation around you.

We can become good at abstract thinking that is unconnected with practice, but in this case, I want to encourage you to use all of your body, not just your mind. Walk outside; open a window and lean outside; put a chair in the doorway. Put your body in a place where you can hear beyond the sounds that dominate the spaces where you live and work. Listen for the many other voices singing, whistling, chattering, groaning, laughing, whooshing beyond your doorway. For a little while, step outside the insulation of manmade structures and sounds to listen for the other voices that we can easily go days without hearing or even thinking about. (If your physical hearing doesn't work well or at all, you can still use your other senses to perceive the voices around you).

It may be that outside your place of shelter, there will still be sounds of technology and industry. That's okay. Listen to whatever you hear. Try to hear the quieter voices which may be struggling to be heard amidst the louder voices that overshadow them. Remember that it isn't necessarily the loudest voices that hold the greatest knowledge or wisdom.

smiling boy

Through the words of the prayer below, ask God to help you listen to the voice of creation.

Once you have identified some of the sounds, try to discover what those voices are communicating. Are they joyful? Are they plaintive? Are they powerful? Are they in danger? Are they intermittent or constant? Does hearing them strengthen your sense of attachment and love for the rest of creation? What do you learn from them?

O God,

In the beauty of this season,
with its bounty and blessings of land, water, and sky,
give me gratitude for plentiful harvest,
changing leaves, early sunsets, and cooler air.
Help me listen to the voice of creation.

Turn my heart to you.
In my innermost space,
let me listen more carefully
to creation, to others and to you.
Help me listen to the voice of creation.

As I am touched in my listening
by your incarnational presence,
remind me of your love and mercy,
your initiative and activity.
Help me listen to the voice of creation.

Show me your attentiveness
to the “cry of the earth and cry of the poor,"
to the “little ones” wounded by a throw-away culture,
and to those suffering due to natural disasters.
Help me listen to the voice of creation.

Listening to the voice of creation,
help me to join in holy witness
to protect those most vulnerable
and to protect our common home.

     Copyright © 2022, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Listening well first is what enables us to understand what needs to be done. So, before action, listen. And then, after listening well, act on what you have heard.

This could be anything from planting native plants that help the native bees buzzing in your garden to advocating for neglected children, whose voices you may hear in the neighborhood park. It could be turning off your outside light at night for the sake of the night creatures you hear hooting after dark who might be disrupted by those lights. If listening to the voice of creation helps you join in some form of "holy witness to protect those most vulnerable and to protect our common home," we would love to hear about it.

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