Thursday, July 31, 2014

You aren't the first to get there

Listening is not always something I do well. This past year I've been forced to learn about what I do that prevents me from listening. In some ways I have welcomed these revelations and have hoped they would help deepen some important relationships. In other ways I really didn't want to know the disturbing truth about myself. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

Perhaps everyone else is aware of the symbolism embedded in the Chinese character that is translated "to listen." Not me. I only recently learned about "ting."  It is very interesting. Okay, more than that. It is fascinating and attractive.

On the left, the ears are prominent. The eyes are on the right looking out at you. The straight line beneath them signifies intense focus. And beneath that is the heart with the tear-like drops. Together, they express an action that requires more senses than just the ears, and becomes more powerful and more meaningful than just "listen" as we would say in English.

Often I listen more with my mouth than any other body part. When I happen on a person in need - it could be a friend, a relative or even a stranger - my first impulse is to give words. To let them know I understand their difficulties and to offer hand-me-down thoughts from wherever I have gathered them. It is partly a lunge to let them know I "get them." The motivation for this flows from a polluted spring - I feel a guilty responsibility to fix what I see. If I don't or can't, it may indicate my own deep failure to be someone who heals and helps. This is not exactly empathetic.

I've been learning a good deal about listing from Zack Eswine, author of Sensing Jesus.  He writes:

"In Jesus we learn that we are never the first to arrive on the scene. We enter the moment quieted to learn what has transpired there before we arrived. What has God been doing prior to our arrival? Once there, what is his intention for our presence? Our nervousness, our desire to do well, our past wisdoms and successes, our longing to have nice things said of us, or our leftover feelings from how we just handled our spouses or were handled by our deacons - these ought not guide our words and actions once we are on the scene." p. 201.

Never the first to arrive on the scene. Not quite how I pictured it. There's something very freeing about that.

1 comment:

Rebecca T said...

Beautifully put, both by you and Eswine. Thank you.