23 August 2010

Meditation: "Ears to Listen"

"Let anyone with ears to hear listen!" --Jesus

"There is a distinction between hearing and listening. We may have functioning hearing organs and still fail to listen to what others are saying."  --Rodney Clapp

"We are used to thinking that it was light that broke the primordial darkness from which all life comes, but it was really God's voice...'Let there be light.' Sound precedes light; we hear before we can see."  --Stephen Webb (quoted in the Rodney Clapp article quoted above!)

Dear Friends,

[First, a disclaimer: I was prompted to write on this topic after reading an article in "The Christian Century" by Rodney Clapp.]

About six weeks ago, I destroyed my iPod. Not intentionally, mind you, but it got fried when I jumped into a swimming pool and swam for 10 minutes before realizing it was in my pocket. No amount of time buried in rice seems sufficient to resurrect it from its watery demise.

At first, I felt terribly bereft. I was so accustomed to listening to music or my regular podcasts during my bicycle commute, that I felt strangely lonely and out-of-sorts riding without those ear buds stuck in my ears. Slowly, I came out of it. But now, just a few days ago, I received a new iPod and can resume sticking those earbuds into my head and listening to music and talk whenever I want.

Except I feel somewhat ambivalent about it now. You see, as it turns out, I've discovered that it was refreshing and kind of freeing not to fill my ears with sound during my commute. Without the iPod, I could clearly hear things in the world around me. Without the iPod filling my head with sound, I could hear myself.

I've always had issues with being heard. Quite honestly, I quickly and easily get frustrated and cranky if I am talking to someone and it's obvious that they may be hearing me, but aren't really listening to me--aren't really taking in what I am saying. When I sense this is happening, I quickly feel like shutting up and walking away. What I never thought about was that maybe even I wasn't really listening to myself. (What a mind-blowing insight this was!) And somehow, my iPod had become a tool I used to distract myself from what was going on in my own head and heart.

I've always considered myself a good listener--but given this recent experience, I'm realizing that maybe I need to recommit myself to listening deeply--to the world around me, to other people, to myself, to God.

How about you? What kind of listener are you? I pray God will grant you the grace to listen deeply--with all your mind and heart--to listen to God, to others, and perhaps most importantly, to yourself.

Blessings on you,


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