Listening carefully to the wisdom within

By Fred Cavaiani

Last week my 4-year-old granddaughter came over to me and asked me a very serious question: "Grandpa, would you tell me how to listen to God." The background for this profound theological question had started the day before. Her mother, our daughter, had observed her talking to herself. When our daughter asked her what she was doing, she said, "Talking to God. I am asking him to help me stay in my bed the whole night. But, Mommy, how do you know when God is listening to you?"

My daughter told her, "The next time you see Grampa ask him, because I think he knows God very well.". And there I was trying to explain to a four year old the importance of being silent and open to the presence of God or Higher Power in our lives. This little girl was already talking to God. She just wanted to know if she was going to get some answers.

Answers about life come to us when we listen attentively to the wisdom within us. This wisdom is discovered and experienced in careful attentiveness to the present moment. My deepest hurt feelings and my deepest joyful feelings contain much wisdom. My reaction to pain and my reaction to joy can often stifle the wisdom within. We can be just as afraid to believe good things can happen to us as we are afraid of bad things happening to us. If I take a chance of believing someone really loves me, my life will have to change. If I take a chance of acknowledging and experiencing the wounds within me, my life will change.

The mother who loses her child at the supermarket and then discovers her child will usually feel anger to cover up the great fear and then the great jubilation of finding her child safe. When someone hurts me or I perceive that I have been emotionally hurt by someone I love, I usually will experience anger so not to have to look deeper at my hurt and discover the truth within myself. When I allow myself to experience the depth of my pain, I will be challenged to go deeper within myself.

Listening to God is to pay close attention to the daily whisperings which take place inside of me throughout the day. To do this will challenge me to let go of my resentments and anger which stifle and hinder me. People who spend time in silence each day become more attentive to everything and everyone around them.

Listen carefully to everyone who crosses your path this day. It will bring profound wisdom. Give up wanting other people to change and listen carefully and reflectively to other people's viewpoints. Amazing things will happen.

Our busy lives keep us preoccupied with being the Head of the Universe and becoming upset when things do not go our way. I spend too much time wishing people would be different rather than accepting them as they are. My negative attitude will simply have a negative affect on other people which will cause them to become even more defensive and unreal. When I can listen to others with respect and attention like my granddaughter asking me to help her to listen to God, I just might have an experience of this so called Divine Person, Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Jaweh, Higher Power or whatever Name we attribute to God.

The struggle in life is to shut up and listen to the Divine speaking to us. Sometimes it takes a four year old to challenge us as to how well we are listening to God or Higher Power each day. "Grandpa, how do you listen to God?" Yes, how do I really listen to God? What are the ways He/She speaks to me each day?

On Friday evening I met with a group of people who had never known one another before. They came to the Capuchin Retreat House in Washington, Michigan, where I do a lot of programs. We met to share thoughts and ideas about Right Relationships with God, Ourselves and with Other people. What a profound evening. Yet it was simply an evening of attentively listening to each other. During the evening I could hear the words of my little granddaughter saying, "Grandpa, how do you listen to God?" I kept feeling that I was really listening to Him right now. It was a privilege to be here.

The next morning I was with another group of people in a different setting. Again, they were sharing the deepest parts of their lives. It was another profound experience of listening to God. What a privilege to gather together and listen to one another. Amazing and profound things happen.

Fred Cavaiani is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at (248)362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Tue, Mar 8, 2011