‘Tis The Season to Listen

This is the time of year when so much is vying for our attention it can be somewhat difficult to know how to listen. The traditional Christmas Carol asks the question:

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear?

While sitting around our Advent wreath last week with some friends of ours we contemplated these words from author Henri Nouwen: “The word ‘listening’ in Latin is obedire, and audire means ‘listening with great attention.’ That is where the word ‘obedience’ comes from. The Latin word for not listening, being deaf, is absurd. If you are absolutely not listening, that is where the word ‘absurd’ comes from. So it might be interesting to note that somebody who is not listening is leading an absurd life…”

It would be easy to spend the week before Christmas being absurd.

Listening has nothing to do with our hearing capabilities. I have met many deaf people who can truly listen and know many people with perfectly fine hearing who are quite absurd. The challenge for us, in this season of noise who live in the Age of Information, is to make the intentional choice to listen.

Join me in choosing to spend this week before Christmas truly listening. I wonder what we will hear. Here are just some of the things I have listened to already. I look forward to and anticipate hearing so much more:

  • The depth of the lyrics of a Christmas Carol and the skill of those who perform it.
  • The well-wishes of acquaintances who look me in the eye, pauses for a brief moment, and say, “Merry Christmas!”
  • The loneliness of those who experience another holiday without someone they once held dear; grieving their loss.
  • The stories, laughter, and passion of friends who make the choice to live in deep and rich community with me.
  • The silence; when all is turned off except the lights of a Christmas tree (and the burning of some candles).
  • The bells of the Salvation Army: the committed volunteer who rings in the cold, the tradition of the red kettle, those who administrate the funds, and those who receive the kindness of others.
  • The words of Linus (A Charlie Brown Christmas) when he recites Luke 2:1-20, in response to the screaming question of Charlie Brown, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

I look forward to hearing so much more…as long as I make the choice to listen!

One more thing, I would enjoy hearing from you about what you are listening to…

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2 Responses to ‘Tis The Season to Listen

  1. Mark, thanks so much for your thoughts and your challenge to all of us to stop and listen. “Do you hear what I hear” happens to be one of my favorite songs during the Advent and Christmas season. For me, it’s so fun to listen to my kids during this Christmas season. Tonight, I’m going to be taking my four boys out Christmas shopping. It’s so fun to hear them talk not just about what they want to get, but what they want to GIVE. Truly stopping and listening to the excitement my children have for Christmas is one of the most rewarding experiences I have as a parent. It brings a smile to my face. I know it brings a smile to my heavenly Father’s face too. He loves to see His children so excited to celebrate His Son’s birthday!

    • Mark says:

      @Chris – I’m so glad you shared what you are listening to. There is a certain wonder and mystery that our children provide. No wonder Jesus welcomed the children. He modeld for us how to listen to them. How cool that you are taking the time to listen to your boys…smiling faces abound!

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