They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’
In the midst of fear and misunderstanding, how do you listen?
Are you following the surface chatter
of social media static—
a billion voices abuzz?
Awash in a multitude of messages,
so much is being said by so many
about free speech.
But who is freely listening—
opening a receptive space,
leaning close with focused attention?
Myriad are the opportunities
and ways of listening
when we put hearts to it.
We can listen for the strike,
the harsh clash of events, action and reaction,
the explosive cloud of crisis and conflict.
Then, there is heartfelt listening,
attuned to the lingering resonances,
aftereffects, and whispers of lives barely noticed.
When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
When mistrust breeds fear, injustice brews resentment,
and violation begets violence,
can we listen with those who feel dominated AND those who feel threatened?
Dare we listen long enough
till we hear ourselves, our lives, our hopes
echoed in the cries of outsiders?
Dare we wade into realities deeply enough
to acknowledge their complexity
and our complicity?
We see from where we stand.
Can listening be an avenue
for sharing pains and possibilities?
Otherwise, how do we come close to understanding?
Leaning in to listen to a person,
reality, or need beyond my own
re-places the center of gravity outside me and mine.
We can ill-afford to reject
this fundamental human orientation,
and expression of our true God-likeness.
Listen Lord, listen Lord,
Not to our words but to our prayer.
You alone, You alone,
Understand and care.
-John L. Bell (Iona Community)
May we not abandon listening,
but rather listen with abandon,
throwing wide our hearts to hopes and hurts far and near.
Healing happens when together we listen
to the LIFE within our lives, and the Great story
playing out behind our varied accounts.
With the Great Listener may you freely listen,
for resilient hope and tenacious life signs
behind and beneath the events of our times?
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