It was in between History and Biology, lockers were slamming, books getting jostled around as the flood of high school hormones attempted to navigate the walkway. I ducked down to my lower level locker and started switching out my books. That’s when I heard the laughter lilting through the crowd. My head perked up and I craned my neck to look for her face…I’d know that sound anywhere. A moment later, my eyes came to rest on my mom. It wasn’t a space where I typically found her, but that didn’t keep me from instantly recognizing her presence.

It was so loud that day, and I was focused on what was ahead, but I knew her anyway. I’d fallen asleep to that laughter many nights in my attic bedroom; I’d heard it sprinkled throughout my days and months and years. So when it came in the unexpected, it wasn’t hard to know to look for her. I know my mother’s voice.

This last weekend, Red Tent Living hosted a weekend of “Listening Carefully” that explored our relationships as daughters.  Mom and Mary Jane spoke on what we have longed for and sought from our mothers as well as what our Mothering God offers our hearts when we listen for Her carefully.

Tracy Johnson and Mary Jane Hamilton

I came into the weekend filled with a lot of chaos and emotion. I came in aware that I have been struggling to keep my heart spacious enough to hear I AM’s still, small voice. Quite unconsciously, I have been filling my heart with weights and preoccupations. It has grown rather tumultuous with the pressures and doubts I’ve opened the door to—pressures to be something or not feel too much, doubts that I will be ok and that God has words waiting for me in the midst of my ordinary.

And like a mother does, God held my heart this weekend and brought comfort—through sandy walks near lolling waves, open-hearted conversations with kind women, a stirring dinner of great food and story, glasses of wine, shared tears and a spirit of blessing for my heart.

Red Tent Dinner

The weekend’s invitation to listen brought to my mind words that surprised me. Words like “accept,” “remain,” “abide” and “open.” Words that spoke to a posture of being with God instead of taking an action that would make me more “worthy” or more “committed” in my Christian walk. It was a sweet revelation… one that has inspired me to adopt a more intentional space of listening everyday.

As I listen, my mind inevitably wanders, but God remains and continues to surprise my heart with kind words of comfort and vision. And I am coming to recognize that voice with greater ease… it brings beauty in the midst of my chaos.

What might you hear if you found space to listen?


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Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world.  She’s a 25 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart.  Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day.  For now, she is honored to be a part of Red Tent Living.
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