LISTENING – March 3, 2013 Sermon by Rev Sherry Lady
“I used to know an old man who could walk by any cornfield and hear the corn growing.
‘Teach me I’d say when we’d passed on by. (I never said a word while he was listening). Just tell me how you heard that corn’
And he’d say, ‘It takes a lot of practice. You can’t be in a hurry’ And I’d say ‘I have the time.”
He was so good at listening – once he heard wildflower seeds burst open, beginning to grow underground. That’s hard to do. He said he was just lucky to have been by himself up there in the canyon after a rain.
He said it was the quietest place he’d ever been and he stayed there long enough to understand the quiet. I said, ‘I bet you were surprised when you heard those seeds.’
But he said, ‘No, I wasn’t surprised at all. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world.’ He just smiled, remembering”
From: “The Other Way To Listen: by Byrd Baylor
This illustrates the relationship between Desert People and their land – an expression of the intimate childlike feeling of owning something special.
I believe we all own something special, deep inside, but that we often don’t take the time to acknowledge, or stop long enough to listen what it is saying to us. When I went inside to listen this week, after reading these words, I found myself thinking: I wonder what it would be like if,
Instead of watching things grow, we listened for the sound of their growing. Like children. My children and I are anchored to each other.
As young children I watched their bodies grow – but did I ever listen to their growing? Could I have heard:
1) their bones stretching while they slept
2) the sound their fingers made as they wrapped around a spoon,
3) OR how their muscles sang when they ran a race.
4) Listening to the sound their giggles made when they touched the bedroom wall.
5) The sounds of expansion their minds-brains made when a new idea was planted and took root.
If it is in the song of the corn growing, or the wildflower seed bursting open, it must be in everything in the universe, if we will take time to listen for is.
For this we will have to get still more often than we are used to, but it would be worth it. The sound of a heart expanding when it feels love, or an eyelid expanding when the eye sees something beautiful. They can measure the sound of that you know. We are giant stethoscopes.
Mark Nepo, author of the best selling book “The Book of Awakening” titled his second book, “ Seven Thousand Ways of Listening.” (Quote)
“Listening is a personal pilgrimage that takes time. The practice of listening is one of the most mysterious and challenging art forms on earth. Listening stitches the world together because listening is the doorway to everything that matters. To awaken our hearts through the reverence of listening strengthens the fabric that knit us all together.”
Seven thousand ways to listen seems incomprehensible, until we realize that there are billions of people on the earth who listen every day in some way or another, and in each moment the listening may be experienced differently – individually – according to the need, or the grasp for understanding of what is happening in their lives.
Ways to Listen
The usual are: with the ear and with the heart. The Native cultures from around the world gave us the concept of listening with the skin – Deaf people listen this way. Everything makes a sound. Even our thoughts. Thoughts have energy and we pick up vibrations from others thoughts, and our own.
Receiving is another way of listening. I quote again: “Only by receiving light can flowers grow in to their beauty…only be absorbing rain can the earth grow what feeds us. Only by inhaling air can our bodies walk us to each other. Only by accepting each other’s pain and vulnerability can human strength grow between us or by receiving joy can we feel our burden lifted. Receiving involves, like nature, the absorbing, inhaling and accepting of the life that flows through and between us. This is listening at its deepest.” With the whole of us we can practice deep listening.
Listening to our bodies as they talk to us. Every cell is trying to tell us something each and every moment, and yet we ignore what it is saying and go to someone else to find out why it isn’t working and then we say “I should have paid attention to that symptom or that ache, but I just had to keep going.” Cells talk, energy talks, neurons and cartiledge talk – to one another as well as to us. Stethescopes can hear hearts, machine can measure sound waves coming from a finger or toe nail. We can hear our breath and hear our stomachs. Pay attention!
Listening to the elements. (from the book) “Do this: get to know one thing as well as you can….don’t start with the whole Pacific Ocean.” Try just one drop of water at a time and learn about it. Inhale one breath of wind until you can understand the power and majesty of the whole wind that covers the earth and how it moves.
Of course, listening has become the subject of some great humor.
- Congress is so strange. A man gets up to speak and says nothing, nobody listens and then everyone disagrees. (Will R.)
- One advantage of talking to yourself is that you know at least somebody’s listening.
- History repeats itself because no one listens the first time.
- I’ll defend to the death your right to say that, but I never said I’d listen to it.
- If you want your spouse to listen and pay attention to every word you say, talk in your sleep.
- What women want is to be loved and listened to. What men want is tickets to the world series or bowl games.
- You were so intent . I so appreciate that. What was it that you were listening for? The end of the conversation.
Listening to learn. If you think you are better than a horned toad, you’ll never hear its voice. Same with people What would become possible is we each approached every conversation as an opportunity to learn? Be fully present to each conversation you engage in and listen longer than usual – and with more patience. Give the other person your full, attention because nothing else really matters. Listen without thinking about other things. You will be surprised at how much you learn.
Listening to receive spiritual nourishment: The voice of God.
There’s a song we chant in Taize service and the children sing it during the music portion of their youth education lesson. “Listen, listen, to my heart’s song, listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song. I will never leave you, I will never forsake you, I will never leave you, I will never forsake you. Listen, listen to my heart’s song….”
Back to “The Other Way to Listen” – a metaphor for deep listening.
“We leaned against another rock. A long time passed and then he said, “Did you hear that?” They looked at each other. I said :I didn’t hear a thing.”
He said ‘Sometimes everything being right makes a kind of sound. Like just now. It wasn’t much more than a good feeling that I heard from that old rock. ‘ “Were you surprised to hear it?’ (I always had to ask)
He said not a bit. “It seemed like the most natural thing in the world.” I told him I wished I’d heard it, too. He said he thought I would some day.
As we feel the winds of change blowing around us, may we:
- listen with our hearts and not spend too much time in the realm of only the perceived logic that presents itself in our heads.
- May we listen with our skin so we can feel each other’s vibrations and syncopate our energies of discernment as to what would be good for all concerned.
- May we lean against the rock of our faith so that the message we send out into the world is that we, as a church, have paid attention to what is good and right for us to do at this time.
- May we focus on one thing—getting to know who and what we are as a spiritual community as deeply as we possibly can and make our decisions from that place.
- May we realize and appreciate the many ways our community listens: Chaplains, meditation groups, Angel Network, prayer ministry, prayer shawl ministry, Taize healing prayer service, prayer request forms in your bulletin, our phone lines, etc.
From Mark Nepo: “Listening beyond our own silhouette, each thing we encounter is alive—be it a stone, a dragonfly. a symphony, or a peach. And each thing in its aliveness encodes and mirrors the whole of life in its own way. When we can listen, each particle of being, no matter how small, invites our presence and attention so that we might hear and feel the Universe through it.” May this be true our spiritual community as we listen to each other and breathe in the winds of change and let ourselves be lifted higher than we thought possible.
Rev. Sherry Lady is a member in good standing with HealerToday.com. She is a minister at Unity of Valley, Eugene, OR. Learn more about Rev Sherry at: http://www.UnityoftheValley.org,