Have you ever assessed your listening skills honestly? I recently did and realized I am often least attentive when I’m listening to those I love most. There are times when Chris or the kids mention a person or anecdote that I have no memory of previously hearing. It’s often funny, but also convicting.
Surrounded by ambient noise — traffic, a dog’s bark, constant phone notifications — we hear up to 20,000 words daily, recalling only 25 to 50 percent. Amid this noise, who and what we hear is crucial. Barbara Brown Taylor noted, “Hearing just happens; listening is a choice.” Making the choice to listen is risky. It requires presence, attention, vulnerability and maybe accountability. Failure to listen harms relationships and hinders personal growth, while authentic listening builds connection and compassion.
The riskiest listening may be for the voice of the Spirit. In worship, we hear prayers, hymns and a good word preached. But are we hearing or listening? Are we attentive? Then there’s silence, the pause after the message, sixty seconds feeling like a lifetime. Most aren’t comfortable with silence. Ten to twenty seconds may be manageable, but beyond thirty seconds, restlessness and anxiety set in. How can we listen for God’s voice if we aren’t still enough to hear it?
Considering the challenges of silence, it becomes evident that embracing quiet reflection is crucial for deepening our connection — to ourselves, others and the divine. In a world filled with constant noise, finding solace in silence is transformative. In this quiet space, we open ourselves to truly listening, not just with our ears but with our hearts.
In this context, today’s anthem, “Draw Me Near,” echoes the sentiment that God’s voice is the voice we hear. As we approach the pause for reflection, let’s be intentional about our receptiveness to silence. Quieting our minds, we create an environment to truly listen — not just to words but to the whispers of the divine. Let the anthem guide us, drawing us nearer to the sacred, as we take a moment to listen, reflect and draw inspiration from the beautiful silence unfolding.