“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
“So Eli told Samuel, go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.’”
I Samuel 3:9
We often think of listening as a passive activity. It seems to be merely about being quiet while someone else is speaking. But these Bible passages suggest that listening is a deliberate activity that takes thought and energy and may even have life-changing results. Choosing to listen to someone is an active decision. Have you ever had the experience of listening to someone talk and suddenly realized that you haven’t really heard what was being said? You have unconsciously chosen not to listen and instead are thinking of something else. We may hear a person’s words, but we are really not there – our mind has decided something else is more important and has moved on. This is especially true if we disagree with someone or are uncomfortable with what is being said. Our country has enormous diversity in culture and religion and that is both a challenge and an opportunity for us to find a way to live together in harmony. Learning to listen to each other without fear or judgment is the beginning of compassion and understanding. Journalist and author Paul Hawken wisely says this: “When we listen to people our own language softens. Listening may be the cardinal act of giving…I think it is the source of peace.” Listening is truly holy work. There is a wonderful story about Mother Teresa, who was asked what she did when she prayed to God. “Oh,” she said, “that’s easy, I listen.” And what does God do? “Oh,” she replied. “God listens.”
God, in this time of change and shifting paradigms, give me the courage and compassion to really listen to others. Let me be an instrument of your peace. Amen.