I need to listen with more than just my ears.
I was listening to @Gretchenrubin Happier podcast earlier this week, and she mentioned that one of her questions for the year was “Am I really listening?”
I’ve been thinking a lot about listening. My definition of “listening” has changed since I was introduced to the world of hearing loss. I look back at all the times I begged my oldest son to just listen to me before I knew exactly how hard that was for him. Honestly, I still do it more than I’d like out of instinct.
But what does it mean to listen when you can’t hear sounds?
Maybe I need to expand my definition of listening… maybe we all could…
Maybe “listening” for me should be responding to the toothache that may or may not make it to my dental cleaning appointment. Maybe it should be acknowledging that when my sons’ leave their uneaten breakfast in a variety of annoying locations that they may just not like biscuit sandwiches and never will no matter how much I like making them.
Maybe “listening” means “hearing” my body say it’s tired, it’s hungry, or it’s anxious and pausing to take care of those needs. Maybe it means watching the body language of others as much as the words that come out of their mouth and acknowledging the complexity of their responses and experiences.
Maybe it’s letting the special world of my son bleed into my own and teach me that listening is about so much more than just sound.
Maybe, then, this prayer by John Veltri, SJ will take on new meaning for me:
Teach me to listen, O God,
to those nearest me,
my family, my friends, my co-workers.
Help me to be aware that
no matter what words I hear,
the message is,
“Accept the person I am. Listen to me.”
Teach me to listen, my caring God,⠀
to those far from me —
the whisper of the hopeless,
the plea of the forgotten,
the cry of the anguished.
Teach me to listen, O God my Mother,
Help me to be less afraid
to trust the voice inside —
in the deepest part of me.
Teach me to listen, O Holy Spirit,
for your voice –
in busyness and in boredom,
in certainty and in doubt,
in noise and in silence.
Teach me, Lord, to listen. Amen.