Week 5 Day 2: Protected and Guided by Love

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.”
John 10:14,15

Protected and Guided by Love
There’s a lot of noise in the world and the noise can be distracting. But when we take some time in silence, to listen, to God as we would listen to a friend, we can come to know the one who speaks to us.

-Br. James Koester


This week we’re thinking of different ways in which we can abide, both us abiding in God, and God abiding in us. I want to reflect for a few moments on that wonderful section from John’s Gospel about the Good Shepherd.

“I am the good shepherd,” Jesus says. And specifically, “I am the good shepherd”, verse 14. “I am the good shepherd, I know my own, and my own know me.”

I think that one of the ways that which we can develop our relationship with God is to think about our relationship with our friends, our human friends, because I think that has a lot to say about how we can develop our relationship, our friendship, with God. And just as we know that friendship takes time, it takes energy, it takes effort, but it also takes a degree of listening to one another and we can only listen to one another when we’re silent, when I’m silent, in order to listen to my friend.

That’s one of the disciplines, which I think, which for me, is incredibly powerful here at the monastery. People discover the grace of silence and what silence can be. There’s a lot of noise in the world. People come here and they’re often surprised by the silence and what they can hear in the silence. Earlier, in Chapter 10 of John’s Gospel in this Good Shepherd passage, Jesus says that, “His sheep will follow him because they know his voice.

So I think the question for us is, how can we know the voice of God? For me, we can only know the voice of God, or one of the ways that we can know the voice of God, is through the practice and discipline of silence. As I said, there’s a lot of noise in the world and the noise can be distracting.  It can be overwhelming. But when we take some time in silence, to listen, as we would listen to a friend, we can come to know the one who speaks to us.

So I’d suggest that this week you might try some silence. Spend 10 minutes in the morning in silence – no radio, no TV, no headphones. Just spend some time in silence, and see if you can hear the voice of God speaking to you. And in that way, you can come to know God as God knows you.

We invite you to share your answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus


  1. Jeanne DeFazio on February 8, 2019 at 09:56

    Thanks for this wonderful reflection. I spent five days last month at St. John’s Monastery in Cambridge, MA. The silence was wonderful. I was able to stop talking to God and to feel his presence. What a gift! Back in my own routine I still overall when tired but the exercise in silence of those five days left me with an understanding of that I can have God’s presence without saying a Word. Just silently sitting before Him. He is there. He is beautiful and He wants to heal us all from the need to over talk life.

    Thanks for your words of wisdom!

  2. Mary Anderson on March 28, 2018 at 09:23

    I live with my husband in a rural town with little traffic noise, only an occasional train whistle caught in the wind. It’s very quiet with our grown children living their own lives. My husband in not a talker. During many meals we sit in silence as we eat. We have too much quiet in our house. I believe we are too occupied with our own thoughts to hear God in the silence.

    On the other hand, we walk a mile or two each day. During that time it is a different silence that I feel. God’s creations surrounds us – the wheat fields, the sunflowers, the looming rain/snow clouds or bight blue skies and shining sun. With only the wind blowing through my hair, I take time to pray, to listen, to be with God.

  3. Carol Niemand on March 22, 2018 at 02:07

    Always need to have background music to get anything done so SILENCE will be very difficult for me as it produces intense anxiety.

  4. Dorothy Wilson on March 21, 2018 at 01:09

    In the silence I find you and you find me.

  5. PAMELA ANN QUARSTEIN on March 20, 2018 at 03:37

    L I S T E N
    L isten for the grace of silence
    I n your meditation
    S ilence must be practiced so that you can say
    T hey know His voice and so do I
    Find tim E to spend in silence
    Hush the N oise and listen

  6. David John Drew on March 14, 2018 at 22:48

    Lord God,

    Today I reflect and contemplate what it is to hear your call, and what it means to know you. Every morning I sit in silence with you, and I feel drawn beyond the limited confines of my mind and perception, and I realize that you are beyond my comprehension or understanding. It is as if I am standing on the edge of a vast ocean, and I can see the endless and infinite body of water – and yet I know there is more than my eyes can take in, a vast world of shapes, forms and thoughts – an immensity which my mind is incapable of grasping, understanding, encircling or holding. I experience you both as the ultimate reality that incorporates all things, and an emptiness in which all things are possible. You possess the essence of totality without needing anything. You are the epitome of silence, solitude and stillness, and yet constantly in motion, forever revolving, the source from which all life emerges into form, to which all things return. You created me as a reflection of yourself, out of your desire to express love – and to have that love return to you. Even if I am but a speck, a shard, a fragment of dust in the entire cosmos – even then, I still know that I came from your essence, and that I must, one day, be rejoined to you.

    Though for infinite eons you dwelt in silence, you creatively expressed yourself in every way imaginable, and beyond that which any human can know. Your thoughts and your word became the command that emerged as the earth, nature and living forms. You inspired with your breath, the Spirit. The humans you created as the summit of your creation were made in your image, possessing the power of choice, of freedom. And so many fell away and forgot you – adrift and lost from the origin of their life. This loss was unbearable to one in which love is the power which fuels and propels all life… that you transformed yourself into the essence of a man, to call us back into the relationship of love. For our benefit, you became the image of a man, just like us – both mortal and divine in form that we might be guided, taught and come to know you, as we know ourselves. You suffered the pains of the world as we do – the sufferings of isolation, of separation and inordinate desires, you sacrificed that which you love for your ultimate desire – to have that which you love returned. You gave yourself that we might gain you – in mind, body and spirit, and be reunited.

    Lord Jesus, Creative Act of Love and Supreme Sacrifice, come to dwell in us, and deliver us all from the pains and sufferings of the world and our separation – and reunite us with the Absolute, the Origin of Life, our Father in Heaven.

    With my heart, I listen

    + Amen

    Pax – David

  7. James on March 13, 2018 at 20:36

    Conversation is a lost art and our listening skills in this plugged-in world are none existent. During conversations we’re all just patiently waiting for the other person to stop talking so we can begin. We’re not listening, we’re waiting. We want our opinion heard so that we can appear to have all the answers. And when we think we have all the answers, we never ask any questions or heed any advice. We must learn to stop and listen for that wee small voice of our Lord and Saviour because He has all the answers and knows how to lead us if we’ll just keep quiet and admit we don’t know everything or really anything for that matter. Speak Lord, speak and I shall listen!

    • Eileen Galsworthy on March 26, 2018 at 14:35

      So true, I am guilty of waiting instead of listening but for me it’s because I shall forget what I was going to say, and quite often but in. I will try this week to be different. Where our Lord is concerned I have learned over the years to listen in the quietness and find it a great blessing when he directs me. Eileen.

  8. April Baily on March 13, 2018 at 18:33

    Silence is hard for me, as it is for many, but I’m finally really trying to be still, for a while, every day. Thank you for the encouragement. Amen.

  9. Karen Hall Wright on March 13, 2018 at 18:02

    I loved this talk. Truly the grace of God is silence for me Brother James so eloquently painted a precious part of our gift to each other and God

  10. Damon D. Hickey on March 13, 2018 at 07:16

    Br. James offers a very different metaphor for the loving relationship between God and us, or between Jesus and us than Br. Curtis did yesterday: friendship. I did a little googling about the different words (six or so) in Greek for love. Agape, divine love, isn’t the same as self-love, parent-child love, brotherly love (friendship), or sexual/romantic love. Parent-child love is just one metaphor for how God loves us and how we love God, and maybe not the best. Friendship has its limits too as a metaphor for a relationship that’s asymmetric; Jesus is Lord. Br. James’s point about the importance of silence when listening for the good shepherd’s voice was also made earlier by Br. Curtis. But here, it’s more about listening deeply to a friend, rather than listening for direction so that we won’t wander off and get hurt. I really like the idea of my relationship with Jesus as a friendship in which both try to listen deeply to the other, so both know they’ve been heard and loved, and can grow into each other.

    • Bishop Hollywood on March 13, 2018 at 15:43

      Good morning brothers and sisters. I agree with Bro Koester. In any relationship in order for it to work there has to quality time spent together and communication. In the communication part, there has to speaking to each other but also listening to each other. There’s nothing like taking a few minutes to be silent and just listen. You can truly learn alot.

    • Bryan Cook on March 13, 2018 at 18:14

      Thanks Damon…great insight….listening deeply and not superficially…..a lesson I must learn. B

  11. Stan on March 13, 2018 at 06:17

    I have practiced silent communion with God in favorite, places in the woods, by moving water, with the quiet babble and the chirping and singing of the birds surrounding me. I have been very much filled with the Spirit in these places, yet … I have not always been truly silent mentally. Sometimes I just kind of “find” answers to things, and sometimes I may truly get inspiration. But … being silent is only part of listening. I have found that one can often hear answers to your troubles, problems, and yes, even to your prayers simply by listening to what others say to you. And it’s usually not even while having a conversation about it. People can just come out and solve your troubles or answer your prayers completely of the blue … if you’re truly listening to them. We all know that God’s work is usually done through people. We just have to be awake and aware, and listening fully to what they say, when you least expect it.

    • fordmediation@gmail.com on March 17, 2018 at 17:10

      That is precisely what can happen when our gracious G-ds speaks thru other people… And they need not even be people who know us well.

  12. Agatha Nolen on March 13, 2018 at 03:54

    I’ve had many times where I needed to take a step back and enter that silence.

    One time was a very emotional time for me when I had filed for a divorce. My husband had just finished 30 days of inpatient treatment for alcoholism and was being released. He wanted to repair our marriage, but when I asked about continued outpatient treatment, he responded that he didn’t need any more treatment, he had been cured of his alcoholism. I retreated in silence and over the next few days, God confirmed my tough decision to follow through with the divorce. It was definitely God’s hand protecting me in that difficult decision.

    At another time a good friend called and needed a loan of $8000 for six weeks. She said that her marriage had become intolerable and a friend was going to prison if he didn’t come up with $3000 bail. I immediately responded that I’d loan her the money and did so the next day. A few days later, she called again saying that she would need another $26,000 for “living money” until her divorce was final. Again, I took a step back and retreated into the silence of God’s presence. This time the answer was no, I couldn’t loan her the extra money. As it has turned out, the six-week loan has turned into 3-1/2 years and has never been paid back.

    Looking back I was protected and guided by God’s responses in the silence of our hearts.

  13. Faith on March 13, 2018 at 01:09

    For several months I have developed a practice of contemplative prayer. I attended a workshop. I have downloaded videos from Fr. Thomas Keating. I can say that I am literally blown away by this.I did not know how much I have needed this. I have been able to process the coping methods I have used throughout my life. There was virtually no acceptance in my family I had to prove that I was meant to be here. Fortunately God sent people into my life who cared about me. I am a retired professional who has had what was seemingly a strong faith and a positive attitude. Yet I prayed to
    God instead of listening to him. Thank you for your wonderful support over the years . I have vivid recollections of quiet listening to
    God in your chapel. I am 86 years old and am so thankful that I am “getting over myself and listening for a change!

  14. Patricia Barnes on March 13, 2018 at 00:58

    I guess this is what meditating is all about.

  15. Kathy M on March 12, 2018 at 20:06

    We cannot not hear without listening. Listening is a skill that requires practice. A 10-minute centreing prayer each morning might start with “So, Father, what are we going to do today?” The transformation potential is exciting.

  16. Bryan Cook on March 12, 2018 at 16:41

    I talk too much; I interrupt too much. I likely learned these habits as I worked my way through the English school system….defensive postures to mask my own insecurities, to counter my stammering, to show off, to not appear dumb, to get noticed and wanted, to succeed.
    But I was and am at my happiest when I am contemplating nature, art, indeed all of God’s creations in silence; silent meditation, though even that can be broken by the sound of my inner voice.
    I have also had the habit of not respecting my own boundaries and those of others by blabbing on.
    The world is increasingly full of noise, boosted by human creativity, industry, commerce and political governance. I get annoyed by the constant bombardment of news and advertising
    However, through prayer, with maturity and by deliberately turning off switches and controllers, I have gradually come to be silent and reflective, and with these abilities have I have gained wisdom and insight and curbed my impetuous nature. I still have a long long way to go; these Lenten journeys really help.

  17. Patsy White on March 12, 2018 at 16:24

    A beautiful reminder to listen to God in the silence. I love the term “abide.” I set aside the silent time, but stopping my own chatter at God is still so hard.

  18. Bev Cone on March 12, 2018 at 15:49

    it is so difficult to just “shut up and listen”. I want to interrupt Jesus when I sit quietly, to remind Him of what I need. Today I will listen for His voice, hopefully unblemished by self-interest, as John mentions in his comment above.

  19. Keith Aldred on March 12, 2018 at 15:09

    How do we know what God wants, if we don’t listen to Him?
    Be with us today and always and help us to respond Lord.

  20. John David Spangler on March 12, 2018 at 14:29

    I am reminded of the adage: “Speech is silver; silence is golden.”, As Brother James reminds us, it is. In my prayers, often said in darkness, I find myself praying for silence even to the extent of asking for a silence which will quiet, stop, my efforts to pray. By the grace of God, this request is sometimes granted, bringing a wonderful peace that “peace which the world cannot give”. As He said, The Good Sheperd knows us, His sheep. We must listen in silence, unblemished by self-interest.
    Brother James, I thank you for the reminder>

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