WHERE IS YOUR FOCUS?

 

Gerry was walking down a sidewalk in Washington D.C., with a Native American friend who worked in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It was lunchtime in Washington. People were husslin’ and busslin’ along the sidewalks, and car honks and hurried engine noises filled the streets.  In the middle of all this traffic, Gerry’s friend stopped and said, “hey, a. cricket!”

“What?” said Gerry.

“Yeah, a cricket,” said his friend. “Look here,” and he pulled aside some of the bushes that separated the sidewalk from the government buildings. There in the shade was a cricket chirping away.

“Wow,” said Gerry, “How did you hear that with all this noise and traffic?”

“Oh,” said the Native man. “It was the way I was raised … what I was taught to listen for. Here, I’ll show you something.”

The Native man reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of coins … nickels, quarters, dimes … and dropped then on the sidewalk. Everyone who was rushing by stopped to …  listen.

Source: Susan Strauss
Passionate Fact: Storytelling in Natural History and Cultural Interpretation (Fulcrum Publishing, 1996) page 9

CONSIDER THIS

We with our busy lives, rushing down highways and byways, preoccupied with our own inner thoughts and expectations, what do we hear?

Where is your focus? What are you paying attention to? What are you listening to?

THE DEAF WIFE AND THE CONCERNED HUSBAND

A man feared that his wife wasn’t hearing as well as she used to and he thought she might need a hearing aid. Not quite sure how to approach her, he called the family doctor to discuss the problem. The doctor told him there is a simple informal test the husband could perform to give the doctor a better idea about her hearing loss.

“Here’s what you do,” said the doctor, “stand about 40 feet away from her, and in a normal conversational speaking tone see if she hears you. If not, go to 30 feet, then 20 feet, and so on until you get a response.”

That evening, the wife is in the kitchen cooking dinner, and he was in the den. He said to himself, “I’m about 40 feet away, let’s see what happens.” Then in a normal tone he asked, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” No response.

So the husband moved closer to the kitchen, about 30 feet from his wife and repeats, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” Still no response.

Next he moves into the dining room where he was about 20 feet from his wife and asked, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” Again he gets no response.

So, he walked up to the kitchen door, about 10 feet away. “Honey, what’s for dinner?” Again there is no response.

So he walked right up behind her. “Honey, what’s for dinner?” 

“Ralph, for the fifth time I’ve said, chicken!”

 Source: As told in Cathy L. Wray, The Perfect Blend Devotional
(WestBow Press, 2014) pages 147-148

CONSIDER THIS

The problem may not be with the other one as we always think. It could be very much within us. We sometimes tend to look to heal in others problems or issues that are actually ours.

LISTENING TO BOTH SIDES

The disciple asked the master: “What should a decent and respectful human being do to understand the real-world situation? What makes a human being out-of-touch with reality?”

After a few moments of quiet stillness the master answered: “Always listen wholeheartedly to both sides and you will be enlightened; listen to only one side and you will be left in the dark.”

Source | Unknown.
This rendition is as adapted and retold by Philip Chircop sj.

CONSIDER THIS

I am told that the Chinese symbol for “listening” is made of two main characters, one depicting the ears and the other depicting the heart. To really listen one must not only use both ears but also the heart!  To really listen one be fully present, wholeheartedly, offering undivided attention to the other.

What do you hear when you listen to the one you love or to the one you consider to be your enemy? Are you engaged in active listening?

MOVED BY THE MELODIES OF CREATION

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov  (1698-1760 and founder of the Chassidic movement) was asked: “Why is it that Chassidim burst into song and dance at the slightest provocation? Is this the behaviour of a healthy, sane individual?”

The Baal Shem Tov responded with a story:

Once, a musician came to town–a musician of great but unknown talent. He stood on a street corner and began to play. Those who stopped to listen could not tear themselves away, and soon a large crowd stood enthralled by the glorious music whose equal they had never heard. Before long they were moving to its rhythm, and the entire street was transformed into a dancing mass of humanity.

A deaf man walking by wondered: Has the world gone mad? Why are the townspeople jumping up and down, waving their arms and turning in circles in middle of the street?

“Chassidim,” concluded the Baal Shem Tov, “are moved by the melody that issues forth from every creature in God’s creation. If this makes them appear mad to those with less sensitive ears, should they therefore cease to dance?”

Source | http://www.chabad.org

CONSIDER THIS

They dance because they have tapped – in the words of George Fowler –  the “unmined gold” that is inside.

DEEP LISTENING

Once two friends were walking down the sidewalk on a busy street during rush hour.  There were all sorts of noise in the city; car horns honking, feet shuffling, people talking! And amid all the noise, one of the friends turned to the other and said, “I hear a cricket.”

“No way,” her friend responded. “How could you hear a cricket with all of this noise? You must be imagining it. Besides, I’ve never seen a cricket in the city.”

“No really, I do hear a cricket. I’ll show you.”  She stopped for a moment, then led her friend across the street to a big cement planter with a tree in it.  Pushing back the leaves she found a little brown cricket.

“That’s amazing!” said her friend, “You must have a super-human hearing. What’s your secret?”

“No, my hearing is just the same as yours. There’s no secret,” The first woman replied. “Watch, I’ll show you.”  She reached into her pocket, pulled out some loose change, and threw it on the sidewalk.   Amid all of the noise of the city, everyone within thirty feet turned their head to see where the sound of the money was coming from.

“See,” she said. “It’s all a matter of what you are listening for.”

Source | Elisa Davy Pearmain,
Doorways to the Soul: 52 Wisdom Tales from Around the World, page 14.

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • I am learning that silence is not the absence of noise but the refined tuning of the soul to the sounds and movements that usually go unnoticed.
  • What are you listening for in your life?

BLESSINGS OF A DEAF FROG

A group of frogs were hopping contentedly through the woods, going about their froggy business, when two of them fell into a deep pit. All of the other frogs gathered around the pit to see what could be done to help their companions. When they saw how deep the pit was, they agreed that it was hopeless and told the two frogs in the pit that they should prepare themselves for their fate, because they were as good as dead.

Unwilling to accept this terrible fate, the two frogs began to jump with all of their might. Some of the frogs shouted into the pit that it was hopeless, and that the two frogs wouldn’t be in that situation if they had been more careful, more obedient to the froggy rules, and more responsible. The other frogs continued sorrowfully shouting that they should save their energy and give up, since they were already as good as dead.

The two frogs continued jumping with all their might, and after several hours of this, were quite weary. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to the calls of his fellow frogs. Exhausted, he quietly resolved himself to his fate, lay down at the bottom of the pit, and died.

The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could, although his body was wracked with pain and he was quite exhausted. Once again, his companions began yelling for him to accept his fate, stop the pain and just die. The weary frog jumped harder and harder and, wonder of wonders, finally leaped so high that he sprang from the pit.

Amazed, the other frogs celebrated his freedom and then gathering around him asked, “Why did you continue jumping when we told you it was impossible?”

The astonished frog explained to them that he was deaf, and as he saw their gestures and shouting, he thought they were cheering him on. What he had perceived as encouragement inspired him to try harder and to succeed against all odds.

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Many things we say or  do are related to what we hear.

  • The book of Proverbs (18:21) says, There is death and life in the power of the tongue”. Your encouraging words can lift someone up and help them make it through the day. Your destructive words can cause deep wounds; they may be the weapons that destroy someone’s desire to continue trying – or even their life.
  • Your destructive, careless word can diminish someone in the eyes of others, destroy their influence and have a lasting impact on the way others respond to them. Be careful what you say.
  • Speak kind and life-giving words of blessing and encouragement to those who cross your path. There is enormous power in words.