THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING
This weekend I am beginning a new four homily message series called “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?” that will span the last weeks of Ordinary Time concluding midway through Lent. Like all previous message series, we will post video and podcast versions of the homilies with a link at our family website—www.chathamcatholic.ca for those who are away or at different Masses on the weekend.
The focus of this message series takes a look at the importance of listening in our world today and of course in our faith. Real listening is crucial for us to understand one another, learn new things and grow in a deeper friendship with Christ our Risen Lord. Unfortunately we are not very good listeners for many different reasons. In this series, I want to explore the struggles we face in having true conversations with God and with each other. We need to listen, understand and support one another as we all journey to the kingdom. Without the ability to attentively understand, the world falls into chaos and we lose our way.
THE ART OF LISTENING
In the second session of the latest online TED retreat called “SEARCHING FOR GOD,” I used a brief TED talk by Julian Treasure, a world renowned international speaker on sound and communication skills. In his talk he spoke about the art of listening that has been lost in our world today. We do a lot of talking but we are not actually listening, absorbing and digesting what we hear in actual conversation with one another.
Our attention span is brief, we are constantly bombarded with breaking news and in an attempt to block out all the noise, we create our own personal sound bubbles (like noise cancelling headphones) to find peace, quiet and space. Unfortunately, this blocks everything out and prevents any attempt to listen and interpret what is being presented to us. The art of listening attentively has faded away.
LISTENING WITH OUR HEARTS
I believe that we have lost the art of listening in our faith as well. In the busy-ness of life, the noise around us and the countless distractions, the voice of Christ can be lost and unrecognizable. We have difficulty tuning in to the sound of God’s voice. Silence becomes an extremely rare and scary proposition in a world filled with bells, rings and emoticons!! Yet God speaks to our hearts in whispers—this means we do need to find the quiet so we can hear Him. How can we truly find the time, space and ability to listen to God? We need our ears but most especially open hearts to hear the voice of the Lord who supports, encourages, heals, strengthens and sends us out as His faithful disciples. Of course, God speaks to us in our prayers, through the Scriptures, the sacraments and also through others. This is why we really need to be active, attentive and open listeners to the many ways God speaks to us and how we also become voices of God’s love as we support others. We truly need to listen with our hearts.
BROADCASTING VS. DIALOGUE
One of the powerful points Julian Treasure made in his TED talk was that we are very good at broadcasting but not good at listening and conversation in our world today. Technology has transformed our ability to broadcast our opinions, views and ideas unfiltered—even sharing what we are eating for dinner by posting a photo of our plate using our smart phones. Has this advancement really helped us have meaningful conversations? Are we using the ability to communicate so easily as an opportunity to share and discuss ideas, needs and concerns? Do we simply push agendas or be caught up in how many followers we have? One might just look at the comments section of some of the most popular apps in our world today to see that real dialogue and listening most often does not happen.
A CHANCE TO LISTEN BETTER
It is my hope that during this message series we all take a look at ways we can improve our listening skills so that we can hear God’s voice and truly understand one another. By creating an environment to consciously listen, we can discover new opportunities for growth, mutual respect, and being formed as a better disciple in our world today.
What noise in my life distracts me from understanding God and one another?
How can I take more time to slow down, be silent and listen to God with my heart?