The newness of the school year had finally worn off. The morning rituals of getting everyone ready for school and work, and the evening rituals of preparing a meal started to become a chore rather than just a part of life.
In the midst of these doldrums, an eight-year-old boy became a prophetic influence to his mom.
You see, Mom picked Troy up at school, drove home and began preparing dinner for the family. She had Pinterest open on her phone, trying to follow directions from a recipe, was texting her mom about a concern her mom was having, all while trying to help Troy with his homework. She had one earbud in her ear, listening to the Diocesan podcast, Musings from a Catholic Evangelist, [yes, a shameless plug!]. In short, life was running at a very fast pace; a typical evening experience.
Troy was chattering to his mom about his day. He shared how his classmates were playing a game of kickball and how he had kicked the ball so hard, he cleared all the bases! Without looking up, Mom said, “Really? Oh good!” It became obvious that Mom was only half listening. Testing this, Troy said, “After I came home, we all ate spiders as a snack.” Mom retorted, “That’s nice.” Frustrated, Troy looked up from his homework and tapped her on the hip. “Mom, can you listen to me with your eyes?”
“What?” she asked. A little more forcibly, Troy demanded, “Can you please listen to me with your eyes?” With that, Mom put the phone down, unplugged her earbud and sat down in front of Troy and listened to him with her eyes. When she did this, she pondered on the amazing gift of the life of her son and thought, “I am so blessed! What a great kid!”
This story reminds me of the fact that when we truly “listen with our eyes,” it is an invitation to experience the sacred. According to Kay Lindahl, author of The Sacred Art of Listening1 , listening is “an awareness that not only are we present to each other, we are present to something that is spiritual, holy, sacred.”
When we truly listen “with our eyes” and give someone our full attention, not only do we listen, we create a sacred silence that is present to the words being spoken and to the very being of another. By opening ourselves to another in this way, we also open ourselves to the very heart of another and, in turn, to the Creator of the other, thus deepening the cause for the sacred silence. It is almost as if the Spirit whispers, “Shh, God is present! Listen to Him!”
A challenge? Indeed! But this is just one way of being aware of the Divine in the daily happenings of life. So listen with not only your eyes, but also your heart!
1Lindahl, Kay. The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice. SkyLight Paths Pub., 2002. Pg. 14.
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness