In these days of social distancing, non-listeners have been bailed out with a built-in excuse. When they are asked, "Have you even heard a single thing I have said?" they can say, “How can I? You’re six feet away!” Truth is, whether it’s an art, a gift or a skill, listening is still more of a attitude thing than a distance thing. As the Good Book says when giving us two slows and a quick: “let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (James 1:19).
It is said that Mother Theresa was once asked by Dan Rather of CBS News what she said during her prayers. She answered, "I listen." Then Dan Rather turned the question around and asked, "Well, if you’re listening, then what does God say?" Mother Theresa smiled and said, "God listens." The reliably unflappable Dan Rather flapped for a moment, so Mother Theresa helped him out: "If you don't understand that," she added, "then I can't explain it to you."
How much that story has changed over the years is difficult to say. (Mother Theresa passed away in 1997.) But it still rings true and sounds like a lot of listening. When it’s noisy or when it’s quiet, at home or out for a walk, sitting still or battling with garden weeds, what will listening sound like today for you? As the Good Book says, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (I Samuel 3:10).
United Methodist Pastor, Child of God, Follower of Jesus Christ.