"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."
"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
[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
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
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,