The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, Lao Tzu said in the Tao. But a better translation of this familiar passage is to say the journey begins beneath our feet—not in the first step but in the stillness that precedes it, in the place where we stand before we move, in the very ground of our being.
So we take off our shoes, standing on the holy ground of this earth. We fold our hands, pausing their habit of doing, doing, doing. And when we bow our heads, we can begin to listen for a story larger than our own, waiting first for a holy word, a sacred connection and understanding in which to root our lives and our work for peace and justice. May our listening be our prayer. May our prayer be our deep listening.
From the chapter “Prayer as Listening” in Karen Hering’s book Writing to Wake the Soul: Opening the Sacred Conversation Within, published by Beyond Words Publishing in 2013.
Karen also serves as consulting literary minister at Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul and leads guided writing sessions and retreats in congregations and communities near and far. She teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality in St. Paul, and the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research. Visit: www.karenhering.com.