Billions of clips have been downloaded on YouTube from millions
of homemade videos. By now, cyberspace must be clogged with blogs,
tweets and twitters available for reading by anyone, anywhere.
Everybody wants to talk. No one seems to care whether or not they
are being heard and fewer still seem to care much about what is
People are curious in an impersonal way about what all of this
chatter means. Everyone accesses information, but is anyone really
listening? The truth is we sometimes feel bombarded with too much
in the name of communication.
Lately, we have been more concerned about a different kind of
listening that seems to be dwindling. We have memories from our
childhoods of being alongside our parents and observing how adults
behaved. We enjoyed listening to their conversations. One of Jim's
favorite memories is of going to a coffee shop before dawn with his
father to hang out with the other Italian produce buyers.
Sitting on a stool at the counter with the men, Jim listened and
heard what men out working for their families thought and said. I
remember helping the women in the kitchen at family gatherings.
Shelling peas or peeling potatoes provided an excuse to hear what
really concerned my grandmother and aunts.
Some time ago, I attended a luncheon for a few women in a small
town. We gathered at our host's gracious home at 11:30 a.m. and
didn't leave until about 3:30 p.m. In between, I learned more about
family triumph and tragedy in a small town than if I had spent
weeks delving into local genealogy. It was all there for the
We appreciate modern communication, but much listening still
needs to be done in the physical company of others. Listening
involves the eyes and heart as well as the ears. A raised eyebrow,
frown or a tremor in a voice conveys far more than a text message
on a cell phone.
Listeners have to let go of personal agendas and journey into
the joy and sorrow of someone else. To listen means to value the
person who needs to be heard. Perhaps our children lack self-esteem
because many of them have never felt the value that comes from
someone listening to them.
If we are no longer able to listen to each other, how can we
hear the more subtle voice of God? People heard Christ, but often
missed his message. From scripture, we remember the Israelites
listening to Joshua as he spoke words that bound them to their
homeland and to their God. What about King David, and his son
Solomon, or the prophets?
Mary sat at Jesus feet while her sister worked in the kitchen,
Paul heard the voice of God on the road to Damascus. Though Peter
and the Apostles in the upper room had no form of mass
communication, they were the first to receive news of a new
covenant. We can't help but think God may still be speaking. Are we
too distracted to listen?