A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

A Sympathetic Ear

Posted on: October 26, 2015

In the digital age, we’re bombarded with information. We’re more connected in a technological sense but more disconnected from other people. Letters, phone calls and, increasingly, in-person conversations have given way to e-mails and texts and “likes.”

Is it any wonder so many of us are lonely and finding it a challenge to develop and sustain real friendships when we don’t know how to talk without a keyboard at our fingertips?

We may think only some people need this kind of interaction: children, as they learn the words and patterns and rhythms of language and feel the need to share their thoughts with us or they’ll burst, or maybe ageing relatives who want to pass on their stories before they’re lost forever. That’s just not so. We all need to feel that someone hears us—that, to paraphrase the words of character Beverly Clark in Shall We Dance, our life will not go unnoticed because someone else notices.

We need to pray for the talents described in Isaiah 50:4*:

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught,

that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary.

Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.

Being the kind of friend we’d like to have doesn’t mean telling others what they want to hear but rather encouraging them to continue to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith (see 2 Timothy 4:6).

It means listening to what they’re saying, and not with half an ear—not with our eyes glued to the television or some handheld device.

And it means being patient as they express their feelings. We’re becoming so accustomed to 160-character messages and sound bites that anything longer may seem…well, too long. But sometimes we need others to be willing to sit with us as we think and try to make sense of life out loud.

We can take a cue from James 1:19-20:

Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.

May we ask God to increase our ability and our patient willingness to hear others and to build them up with our words.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)


2 Responses to "A Sympathetic Ear"

I need more patience and to listen more! Thank you for the reminder.

I think we could all be more patient and improve our listening skills. I know I could 🙂 Too often we wait for other people to finish talking so we can respond rather than really listen to what they’re saying…

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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