Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday for us Christians. I actually love Lent. For me, Lent is a time for reflection…a time to assess where I am. I usually plan to take on something as well as give up something. I find it more difficult to take on something. I usually begin reading a book that I should have read already. I have books on my shelf that I meant to read but never got around to it. I have pulled two books from my shelf and would like to get through both of them. We’ll see.
Taking time out to reflect can be scary. It is possible to find gaps in our lives and thinking. We may uncover the flaws. This can be upsetting. Nevertheless this is work I need to do even if it finds the things I need to change.
However, it can also be a time of affirmation. It is important to also look at the good things and see where I am gaining in knowledge and strength. It will show me where my accumulated wisdom has helped me to make changes in myself and to help others.
This all sounds very grand. But 40 days is a big block of time and I want to use it well. I am glad that my particular faith sets this time aside. If not I would probably skip it altogether.
Ever since I was a child I have loved folk music. I had a teacher in second grade who taught us folk songs and played the auto harp. I love to play and sing those old songs. They tell stories of past times. Songs like “Barbara Allen” and “Darlin’ Clementine” teach us about the people and how they lived. I fear we are losing that history.
Here is Barbara Allen sung by Joan Baez
There was a folk song revival in the 60’s and many of those old favorites were done by people such as The Lime-lighters, The Kingston Trio, and The Mamas and the Papas. New songs were written about the era of the sixties like “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” with Peter, Paul and Mary.
For a while John Denver continued the tradition and I still love his songs.
Enjoy this blast from the past.
Understanding. A word that means so much. I think that each of us longs to be understood. I know that I do. Each of us is an individual. We have our own past, our own values, and our own lives. Many of us have issues with mental health. This makes it harder for people to “get it.”
The other problem is that most people (including us) don’t really listen. If we take the time to stop and really hear what someone is saying it makes all the difference. No one can be understood if they are not listened to.
Maybe that is why we do feel that we are heard on Word Press. If someone is reading what we have written no one is interrupting. When we are talking with someone that may not happen. Too often we spend time deciding what we will say next instead of hearing the other person. Maybe if we really listened then it will encourage someone else to really listen.
Talking is over rated. Listening is the key.
We all need someone to talk to. We all need someone who actually hears us. It may not be the people we love but we need someone. We were not created to go through life alone.
We are communal people. The earliest humans survived because they lived together. We are no different. One of the worst tortures that a human can go through is to be confined alone in a room for a long period. Most people would lose their minds.
It is sometimes difficult to find that person who will really hear us when we share our lives. Too often people are thinking of themselves and not really listening. Often we are sharing with someone who truly cares but wants to fix everything. Most of the time we don’t expect or even want ideas for fixes. All we really want is to be heard. The trouble is most people don’t understand that.
This is the reason that so many people need to talk with a psychologist or psychiatrist. They should be the ones who really listen. (at least if they are any good) If we don’t have someone to share with then they are certainly a help. At least they shouldn’t be judgmental or share confidences.
In the last year I have also found that this community on Word Press is a good place to share and be heard. We are understood the best when someone else has had similar experiences. In this community there is understanding and affirmation. Sometimes it is hard to find that kind of understanding elsewhere.
Wherever you find it seek someone who will listen and hear you. Even if they can only seek to share your feeling it is a help. If you don’t have anyone to talk with face to face you can find understanding here.
I don’t know how much I will post in the next few days. I may be wrapped up in stuff at the Mayo Clinic. However, I may need to write to vent. I’ll just see how it goes. To add to the aggravation I am coming down with what seems to be a cold. Ah well, life goes on.
Since I am tired I will offer another poem.
Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf. Native American Proverb
For an extrovert this is a very important statement. I am always ready to talk and I have to curb myself to really listen. Most of us instead of listening are thinking of the next thing we want to say. I still have to hold my tongue and let others share.
I once visited a convent where there was a rule about discussion. Everyone sat at a table and one person spoke at a time. After that there was silence for several minutes. Then it was someone else’s time to speak. That silence left moments for the digestion of what had been said and time to reflect on what you might say that had importance for the discussion. Many conclusions were easily reached as there was little unimportant information shared.
In social situations I can really get carried away but I am working at it. I am getting better at listening. However, I know that I am not always bad at it as people have come to me for solace or advice my whole life. I do seem to know when listening is critical.
The big difference I see at my age is that I am unafraid to speak about matters that are important and frequently avoided. I will speak out for those who are in need of a voice. There are times when this is not appreciated but I never do it in anger or an emotional state. Important things need to be spoken of calmly and rationally. Listening to others in this kind of discussion is also critical and not easy. Emotions can be triggered and I have had to learn when to just back away.
My father (who was amazing) used to say: put your brain in gear before you put your mouth in motion.
Another good proverb