For those of you who participate in that custom of selecting a word for each New Year, here is mine: listening. I hope – and pray – in 2019 to get better at listening. It’s hard because we live in a really noisy world. People talk over one another and past one another and try to get in the last word.
Our culture prizes the ability to multi-task. We consider it an asset. But if you really think about it, multi-tasking officially sanctions poor listening because – despite what athletes and life coaches may say – it’s really mathematically impossible to give 110%. So, when we multi-task, we’re giving each task (and the people involved in them) less than our full attention.
I heard a true story a while back about a young child and her mother. The little girl could tell that her mother had tuned her out based on the monotone, rhythmic “um hmms” she was hearing, a clear indicator of poor listening. So the child walked over to where her mother was seated, placed both of her chubby, little hands on her mother’s cheeks, and guiding her mother’s face so it lined up with her own, looked into her mother’s eyes and said with slow deliberateness, “Pay attention!”
It’s pretty obvious that no one in Washington is listening anymore. When ideas and values clash, the only way to find resolution is to listen because listening leads to understanding and no challenge can ever be resolved if we don’t understand where the other person is coming from.
At Trinity (www.trinitylafayette.org) we focus a lot on listening. Our new monthly gathering, Fusion (http://www.trinitylafayette.org/fusion) is all about listening. We listen to the sacred stories and we listen to the stories of our lives and the lives of those around us. Christianity is an incarnational faith. We believe that God’s Word took on flesh in Jesus and we trust that God’s Word still takes on flesh in our lives. When we listen deeply to another person, we can also hear the voice of God speaking through their life.
This Monday, Jan. 21, our Fusion speaker will be Rebecca Hauer (rebeccahauer.com). Rebecca is an avid writer, amateur theologian, and abuse survivor who will share her life’s journey around issues of faith, abuse recovery, and mental health. Fusion is more than a monthly event. It’s designed to carve out a space for grace; a space where – by listening to the voices of God and one another – we can connect, discover and grow.
As our nation nears the one-month mark of this government shut-down, I pray that all of us can learn to “listen with the ears of our hearts,” as St. Benedict said, for if we listen deeply, we can hear the voice of God.