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?

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SHE THINKS I’M REAL

One evening, the whole family went out to dinner at a local restaurant.  Everyone got a menu, even the youngest, Aimee, who was 6 years old.  Since the conversation was an ‘adult’ one, Aimee sat there ignored.  When the waitress took their orders, she came to Aimee last.

“And, what would you like to eat, young lady?” she asked.  Aimee answered, “I will have a hamburger, French fries and a large coke”.

“No”, said her mother.  “She will have a small salad with low fat dressing, baked chicken, carrots and boiled rice”.  “And milk to drink”, chimed in her father.

The waitress looked at Aimee and asked, “Would you like catsup or mustard on your hamburger”?  She said, “Catsup with some fried onions on top please.  Oh, and put a very small piece of lettuce on top to please my parents.  Thank you very much”.

As the waitress walked away to place the order, Aimee turned toward her family and said, “You know what?  She thinks I’m real”.

Source | Unknown. Here it is retold as remembered

_____________________________
Here’s a slightly different version

A family settled down for dinner at a restaurant. The waitress first took the order of the adults, then turned to the seven year old. “What will you have?” she asked.

The boy looked around the table timidly and said, “I would like to have a hot dog.”

Before the waitress could write down the order, the mother interrupted. “No hot dogs,” she said, “Get him a steak with mashed potatoes and carrots.”

The waitress ignored her. “Do you want ketchup or mustard on your hot dog?” she asked the boy.

“Ketchup.”

“Coming up in a minute,” said the waitress as she started for the kitchen.

There was a stunned silence when she left. Finally the boy looked at everyone present and said, “Know what? She thinks I’m real!”

Source | Anthony de Mello, The Heart of the Enlightened
(Image Books, 1997) page 45

 

CONSIDER THIS

Have you ever felt like you were being ignored? Do you ever feel like you don’t matter, you don’t count? As if no one cared about anything you had to say?

When others don’t pay attention to our presence we feel as though we are objects to be maintained or avoided or fixed, rather than real human beings to be treated with respect and dignity. On the other hand, when someone listens to us, we feel loved and we feel real.

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.

CONVERSATION

Joe is walking down a darkened alley, when suddenly a man jumps out, brandishing a pistol.

“Don’t shoot,” Joe pleads, “I’ll give you all my money.”

“I don’t want your money,” says the man with the gun. “My whole life I’ve been trying to get someone to sit down and talk with me. Now I’m going to make you listen for one hour.”

Source | www.aish.com

CONSIDER THIS

God Speaks to us all a little differently, hoping we’ll tell each other. | John Stewart

With all the “smart” technology we own and run around with,  it seems that people today are busier than ever, with hardly any time left for honest conversation.  Are you listening to their unique part of the story?  Are you telling your unique part of the story?


WITHNESS

A little boy was late getting home one day. When he finally showed up, his worried mother asked, “Where have you been?”

The little boy explained, “I stopped to help a friend whose bicycle had broken down.”

“But you don’t know how to fix a bicycle,” his mother said.

“That’s true,” replied the little boy, “But I stopped to be with him while he cried.”

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

A simple story about real presence which is nothing more and nothing less than a radical, attentive, continued and generous form of listening.

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?