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
I have been listening to an audio book by Alexander McCall Smith from the No1 Ladies Detective Agency series( Tea Time for the Traditionally Built). I love these books and the audios are so well read I think I am there.
The main character had blister on her foot from walking. She had that day put several band aids on it and it had now popped and felt better. She thought to herself (my rendering)”If we will just do what we can about a problem to fix it and move on after that things will work out.”
This thought really resonated with me. We spend a lot of time worrying about a problem and trying to make a decision. In the meantime the problem continues. If we would just determine what can be done and do it we would be ahead of the game. The other piece of the puzzle is that once we have done that we have to let it go. That is also very difficult. We would rather pick it up and chew on it again like a cow chewing a cud. Somehow we have to learn and implement these important things.
- Identify the problem.
- Decide if anything can be done.
- Determine the best solution (for now).
- Do what we can.
- Let it go.
This is hard for those of us who obsess and worry. Can you do what is possible and then move on?
School is starting here and it has made me think about children. I have a great concern about the children of today. They have so much to overcome. I haven’t read the statistics lately but I wonder how many of them come from homes with divorce or unmarried parents or any home that feels unsteady. The climate today is ok with there being children and no marriage. I certainly don’t condemn the people who choose to live this way but I do question how it is for the children. Marriage doesn’t necessarily help to keep people together but there may be more incentive to think harder about the decision to separate.
To get to the point I am worried for children who grow up in uncertainty. I don’t know that so many of us did in the past. Children need a base. They need a place of safety. Somewhere that feels rock solid. It doesn’t have to be a place….it can be a relationship. That place of safety allows a child to reach outside of that circle without fear. We all need some place to stand anchored.
When parents have little commitment to each other and no incentive to stay together that place of security is threatened. Children need to know that there is a safe place in their world. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be found in the new ways of living but I co think it is harder and may have to be more intentional.Without a safe stand they may seek it elsewhere and it may not be someplace that is really safe.
This has been difficult to put into words that aptly explain what children need. I hope I have, at least, gotten my thoughts across.
I have decided that I am a somewhat unorthodox Christian. I have difficulty following the rules. I am enamored of those who stepped outside of the norm: Matthew Fox, Martin Luther, Meister Eckhart, Francis of Assisi. Hildegard of Bingen, Jesus and many others. I also love the stories/parables of Anthony DeMello and the plain speaking of Marcus Borg. I grow reading them.
I grew up in an eclectic family. My grandparents were Methodist, my parents Presbyterian and my Aunt and Uncle Lutheran. I guess I decided early on that no denomination had all the answers. I still feel that way. Jesus did not follow rules but loved people. He broke the Sabbath rules and many others.
As the “church” grew throughout history it took the message of Jesus and added rules/doctrines to try and be sure that we all follow the norm…. that we are all in sync. This is not wrong in and of itself as we do struggle with the meaning of the writings in the Bible and the words of Jesus. We must listen to the teachings of others and weigh them against our own experience. We also need the community of other Christians. We learn and are supported by the stories of others. I hope that I find a middle ground in all of this.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t find our own way. It’s freedom within form. I don’t ask others to follow my path. Each of us must find our own way and I pray that God leads me in mine. May he also be with you in yours.