MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Mondays are when we bring you our series This I Believe. This week's essay was sent to us by Susan Cosio, a hospital chaplain from Davis, California.
Here's our series curator, independent producer Jay Allison.
JAY ALLISON: As a chaplain and a wife and mother, Susan Cosio is called upon to listen attentively in her life and work. The key for her is how to listen, where to focus her attention. She has a prescription for turning down the volume enough so that she can hear what's important.
Susan Cosio now, with her essay for This I Believe.
SUSAN COSIO: Sometimes I feel like I have no real sense of direction. At 45, this is a little scary. I think my distraction is due to the variety of roles I play and my tendency to try to please others. Much of my day is spent responding to requests - Mommy, will you - Susan, can you - My world is full of spoken and unspoken expectations that I try to live up to as a parent, as a person, as a friend.
I believe I have to remove myself from the voices that barrage me in order to find my true compass. This includes a daily walk just to listen. The guiding light of my life is the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. In our hectic, noisy world, I have to slow down or withdraw in order to hear it. Prayer, I have discovered, is less about what I say and more about what I hear. Time set apart with God is like a hike to a peak from the middle of a dense forest. It gives me perspective and some ability to see where I've been and where I am going.
Discerning God's voice is not so hard when I make time to listen closely. Sometimes I hear it as a sudden insight when I step back from a situation. Other times, it's a deep sense of my priorities or a conviction about something I should do or say. I often take a walk with a pencil and notepad in my pocket and return with notes for a speech or piece of writing. Later, when someone tells me she was moved by the words I'd scribbled on that paper, I know my prompting came from God.
My pursuit of spiritual truth is not about religion as much as it is about relationship. It is not about intellectualizing God's commands, but about internalizing his truth within my heart as well as my head - an understanding so deep and intimate that it affects not only my thinking, but my behavior as well. On my daily walks, I've recognized how to parent my children through difficult situations, been prompted to call a friend I hadn't heard from in a while and felt compelled to reach out to strangers who soon became my friends.
I believe in a daily walk to listen because that is when I am close to God. That is when I find my way. I am most at peace when I tune out the voices of the world long enough to hear the still, small voice of God directing me.
"Be still," Psalm 46 reminds me, "and know that I am God."
ALLISON: Susan Cosio, with her essay for This I Believe. If you are moved to write about the belief that grounds your life, as Cosio did, visit our Web site, NPR.org, for more details on submitting to our series. Or call, toll-free, 888-577-9977. For This I Believe, I'm Jay Allison.