There is a particular kind of slurring that an iPod does when it is running out of juice, somewhere between a digital glitch and an eight-track slip. It is particular, and on my old blue Shuffle it meant I had about ten minutes left of music. Maybe. I was trying to remember while watching for signs of a diamond back I kept hearing behind a Beck track that always made me feel like I was being warned just out of earshot. But with rattlesnakes even a warning that you suspect is audio background noise, you pay attention to.
It was a long dancing trail that was just beyond my familiar route into a box canyon. And I was running out of music with miles to go back home, which would not have been that bad, I often had my little iPod run out after a couple of weeks of running while I was out, but I was trying to ignore God at the time. Earbuds help. A lot.
So I was something closer to worried than annoyed when the music slurred. I changed songs, hoping that would help and knowing it would not. I was sure that I had charged it the night before, and so I was sure that God was wanting my attention.
It was one of those moments in life when things were okay after a long period of disobedience. The fool says in his heart . . . and I was trying not to listen, either to acknowledge how foolish I had been or how much I needed to reform right then. I was running away from God, but in the most mundane, lackadaisical way. I was whistling past the angry mob. I was pretending not to hear the screams in the distant room. I was avoiding my own conscience. I was Jonah in the boat to Tarshish playing cards, and that little slur was the first drop of rain.
I knew. And so I stopped the music. And God spoke. It was loving, kind, but clear and direct. It was time for me to turn around. Again.
The root of the world obedience is “to listen.” And that is where Benedict’s trail begins. “Listen, my son . . .”