Some of the delightful voices I get to listen to these days are the voices of my grandchildren who amuse our family with the things they say. Things like:
- Two granddaughters, dressed in new dresses from Grammy, asked her, “Grammy, can you tell us apart?”
- While playing Scrabble, a granddaughter asked, “Grammy, is IQ a word? I think it has something to do with being smart, but I’m not sure.”
- When dropping off a grandson and picking up a granddaughter, he asked, “Grammy, are you trading me in for my sister?”
- While singing an old children’s song, a grandson asked, “What’s a telephone wire?”
- While cuddling her pet a granddaughter asked, “When dogs hear us, do they hear barking or English?”
Listening to them, my heart and life is filled with the love and joy of those relationships, even in the midst of “mixed up understandings.” As I pondered those listening opportunities I got to thinking that in many cases the “mixed up understandings” come because of their seeing and hearing the world from their own eyes and ears, from their own life’s perspective. And I realized that in a sense all of us do that when listening to others. We therefore need to be careful so that what we are hearing through our own eyes and ears does not get in the way of what the other is really saying. And we need to remember that at the heart of listening is the relationship that can bring joy and fulfillment to both the one being listened to and the one who is listening.
In Mark 10:46-52 we read of Jesus’ healing of blind Bartimaeus. As Bartimaeus is shouting “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” the crowd yells out, “Be quiet.” That reminds me there are still many who are crying out to hear and see and be touched by the love, grace and power of Christ. And how often our own needs, or own “blocks to listening,” can get in the way of our hearing of others, missing opportunities to bring them into the presence, power and peace of Christ, and missing out on those deeper, joy and love filled relationships.
What also amazes me about the story is that Jesus does not assume to know what Bartimaeus is wanting. After stopping and asking to have him brought to him, Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
He was willing to ask a question, which can be a helpful tool in our listening as long as we use it for our deeper listening to others and not just for us.
Gracious and loving God, who listens to our every word and even hears the murmurs of our spirits, may you make us as ready and loving to listen to others. Keep us aware of those blocks to listening that can get in the way of our listening to others so that we might truly hear others words and even the murmurs of their spirits. And in that listening may they and we experience together the joy-filled loving relationships which you intend for all people. In your name we pray. Amen.
Written by Bill Gran from The Good Samaritan Society