Monday, June 11, 2007

listening

I woke up this morning trying hard to listen. Now, I’ll admit that some would say that at the hour that I wake up in the morning there is not much to listen to. That’s kind of the point. It is quiet, I’ll grant you that. But quiet isn’t necessarily what is needed to help me in my listening skills. I’m not necessarily seeking to listen to voices of the human persuasion. It’s the inhuman kind that I’m listening for. Some call it the inner voice. Some call it the inner self, and some even call it the inner child. Sometimes I think that those people should have probably had their inner child spanked a number of years ago. The Book calls it the “still small voice”. My faith calls it the Holy Spirit of the God of the universe.
I’m not sure how you think, but in my finite mind I tend to wonder why the still small voice is small at all. You’d think that the God of the universe and author of some type of creative “Big Bang” could come up with something a bit more attention getting. Some people could use the still small lightening strike to give them guidance. In the Oldest parts of the Book of Books I read about earthquakes, pillars of fire, plagues, and all sorts of “not so small” attention getters. I wonder why all I get is a whisper that, at times, is so hard to discern. I’d settle for a trumpet blast here and there, maybe even a doorbell or two. It’s the smallness that I don’t get. I have to concentrate. I have to focus. I have to listen.
I’m learning to do that more with the people who surround me. I know in my mind that the way to show someone value is to listen to them, to acknowledge them and then to respond. Appropriate response is the key. I have a tendency to respond before listening. I tend to want to fix without being asked to. I have a history of thinking beyond the interaction of the moment. The interesting thing is that this quality really drives me crazy when it’s used on me. It’s the politician handshake. It’s the hand in hand with their eyes on the next person, type of interchange which tells me that I’m valued for the contact, not for the relationship. Even someone as relationally challenged as I can be knows that this is not as it should be. I’ve become a number to them. So it’s hard for me to imagine doing that until I realize that in fact I am doing that. Too often I’m on autopilot. Too many times I’m thinking ahead of the moment as opposed to resting in the moment.
If I choose to, I find that I am able to focus on the moment and speak to the interaction, not to my own created illusion of the interaction. Can I tell you that it’s hard work. It takes eye contact. Sometimes it takes physical contact. Neither of these things could I lead seminars on. I run at full tilt, physically and mentally, with the best of intentions, but I can easily leave some behind. Don’t get me wrong. I am fairly successful in my pastoral arts field. I’m not sure that this is my calling though, to be successful. I’m first and foremost a creation of the Creator with a design for relationship. I’m not necessarily created to help lead a church “successfully” in whatever my world considers success. It just might be that I’m created to impact the people who I encounter through meaningful interaction. It just might be that a by product of that interaction is some measure of success. It might not be though.
I wonder, as I write, whether or not the parental plea of “look at me while I’m talking to you” might have some deeper meaning and supernatural connection. Perhaps God has implanted that desire deeply in our own hearts as those who are created in His image. I guess that I could have been created in a droid like state which would insure an automatic response to my creator. The evidence that I’ve come across would lead me to believe otherwise though. I think that the intent of the “still small voice” is that we would have to focus on it. We would have to seek it. It takes an investment and it invites contact. I have to concentrate on Him when He’s talking to me. There is a relationship forming there as opposed to a religion. I have to get away from the business of my faith and spend time making faith my business. And it doesn’t even have to be quiet.

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