Trappist monk Thomas Merton once wrote a beautiful essay titled “Rain and the Rhinoceros” where he meditated upon a rainstorm from his hermitage in the Kentucky hills. “And I listen,” Merton wrote, “because it reminds me again and again that the whole world runs by rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythms that are not those of the engineer.”
Listening in this way needs to be reclaimed in an age where we have replaced silence with noise; stillness with busyness, this frenetic pursuit of filling our aching sense of lack; and solitude with chronic distraction, the continual need to be entertained. These days it seems we tend to be deaf to spiritual rhythms and are only familiar (and comfortable) with those of the engineer. To find spaces in our lives where listening is our primary posture is to make way for truth to rise up again.
Merton’s description of the festival of rain encircling his cabin in the woods reminds me of my experiences at a hole-in-the-wall blues venue called the Double Door Inn, which cultivated the local music scene in Charlotte, North Carolina, for 44 years before closing in 2016. Though unassuming in its appearance, the magic that happened inside that tumbledown house captured all who entered. What began as a humble bar unexpectedly evolved into one of the most famous blues venues in the Southeast, featuring the likes of Buddy Guy, Junior Walker, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and hundreds of others. For many locals that house of rising sounds became something of a “thin place,” a term ancient Celts used to describe spaces where heaven and earth come close to touching...
Finish reading my piece in RELEVANT Magazine here.