A thought for this holiday season from How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness, by Jan Chozen Bays:

True prayer is not petitioning, it is listening. Deep listening. When we listen deeply, we find that even the “sound” of our own thoughts is disruptive, even annoying. Letting go of thoughts, we enter a more profound inner stillness and receptivity. If this open silence can be held at our core, as our core, then we are no longer confused by trying to sort out and choose among our myriad competing inner voices. Our attention is no longer caught up in the emotional tangle within. It is directed outward. We are looking for the Divine in all appearances, listening to the Divine in all sounds, brushed by the Divine in all.

There are numerous potential hindrances to listening this month: the self-imposed and society-imposed pressure to “get it done,” the shopping, the parties, the requests, the parking lots, the traffic. I tag them “potential” hindrances because we have a choice. Tapping into silence is not dependent upon external peace and quiet. Christ is born deep within our hearts, again and again. The divine land is cultivated in our souls on a continuous basis, and there we are free from oppression.

“Listen” right this moment. What do you hear? Now, move beyond the circumstantial sound. What do you hear inside?