The Art and Skill of Listening

Egrodziak

Photo Credit: Egrodziak via CC Flickr

We all know that life in today’s world is getting faster and faster. Lifestyles are getting busier, more complicated, and less enjoyable. One of the skills that a good number of individuals have lost along the way, has been the skill or ability to actually be quiet, listen and hear to what people (or things) are saying.

How many times have you found yourself “going through the motions” responding to people in robotic, mechanical ways, and never really hearing to what is being said?

Let’s really take the time each day to stop and authentically listen and hear to what our friends, loved ones, or other things” are being said…the results may surprise you!

Today, I have included four very short stories that will illustrate the importance of listening to different things. I hope that these stories will help you in some small way, to maybe improve your relationships with people.

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Mr. President

The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.” It was not till the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Nonplussed, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”

The Signal Gets Weaker

I listen to my local radio station while I’m driving in my car. When I drive away from the radio tower, the signal gets weaker and weaker.  But if I turn the car around and drive back into town, the signal becomes stronger and I can hear it again.

In the same way, we stop hearing God when we drift away from Him.  But if we will turn around and come back to Him, we’ll hear His voice again. The closer we are to God, the clearer we can hear Him. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

Kent Crockett’s Sermon Illustrations, www.kentcrockett.com

 

The Ship Wreck

On December 9, 1902, on Mt Desert Rock off the coast of Maine, a young lighthouse assistant awakened the lighthouse keeper to tell him that he thought he heard a steamboat whistle nearby. The two of them went out into the bitter cold and saw, on the tip of a rock ledge, what appeared to be a wrecked boat. The two men took a rope and fought their way through the icy wind until they saw a tugboat with several men aboard pinned to the rock. It took several attempts, but at last they reached the boat, and despite the frigid conditions, pulled 18 men to safety. Had the young assistant keeper not heard the whistle in the night, some of the crewmen might have perished, for the boat sank shortly after the last man was rescued. Afterwards, as the survivors warmed up and talked about their ordeal, they marveled that their distress whistle could even have been heard over the howling wind and pounding waves. One of the seamen remarked, “That whistle was the voice of God; and thankfully, someone heard it.” (LecAid ibid.) God speaks to us. And when you hear that word, it brings comfort, solace, strength, guidance, courage, and wisdom. God speaks to YOU. And when you hear that word, when you LISTEN to that word, when you RESPOND to that word, you have in your hands a strong rope to lead you over the most troubled waters. For God’s word is the word of life. This is the word of the Lord! AMEN.

An Old Man’s Wisdom

There is a story told of an old man and his grandson who were walking down a business street in a downtown district. As they walked along, the grandfather suddenly stopped, turned his head slightly, and tweaked his ear. After a moment he said to his grandson, “Follow me.”

They slowly moved from where they were standing to a small planter box next to a sidewalk café. The planter was filled with various seasonal plants, but as the old man gently pushed back the flowers, behind them revealed a small bird’s nest filled with baby chicks; their chirping almost indistinguishable from the din of lunchtime dinners and people on the sidewalk.

No one seemed to pay any attention to the old man, his grandson or the little nest, but the grandson was amazed. After watching for a few minutes and then moving away the little boy looked up at his grandfather.

“Grandpa, how did you hear the birds? There is so much noise, so much happening, how could you hear?”

Without saying a word the old man took several coins from his pocket and tossed them on the ground.

With the tinkling of the coins on the sidewalk it seemed everything came to a stop. People turned around. Diners stopped eating to look their way. Several almost seemed to want to reach down and pick up the dropped coins. Then as quickly as it had happened – everything went back to the way it was.

That’s when the old man spoke, “It’s all in what you are listening for, my child, its all in what you are listening for…”

Sometimes I think we are much like the crowd walking down the street. We fail to hear the most important things in life. We’ve filled our lives with so much noise that it’s difficult to hear anything anymore. And when we do hear, we often mistake what we are hearing for what we want to hear instead of what we should be hearing.

Remember this little bit of trivia: The word LISTEN has the same letters as the word SILENT!

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My Best Friend – My Dad

My Best Friend - My Dad

My Best Friend – My Dad

I think back of all the awesome times that I shared with my dad. My dad was a photographer (long before the digital age and the internet) and he would work a lot of weddings, take portraits, and snap pictures for organizations such as the local Little League or the Boy Scouts. We used to go on these road trips just about once a week, in which he would have to drive about an hour and half away to deliver pictures to a Boy Scout camp inNorth Jersey. He had this Ford Galaxy which he called his “sacred cow” that he loved and always took special care of. Under his driver’s seat, he had a cassette player, and he would play all this German music; the polka, beer hall, German bands, etc. He would blast the music all the time and I even got pretty good at “singing” the German lyrics. He even had a little German flag attached to his radio antennae. The rides home were always glorious. We would stop by the huge railroad station in Princeton to watch the trains come and go….man, how I loved watching those things whiz by! Then we would go to out to this diner and I would always get the same thing to eat….a cheeseburger, fries, and homemade lemon lime soda…hmmmm! I can still taste it to this day.

My father was an only child and he never, I mean, NEVER played sports or knew anything about athletics. He always was found reading a book and listening to symphonies but when my brother and I started playing Little League, he always came to our games, watched, and of course, took pictures. He used to take the pictures in such a way, that when he had the film developed, the pictures looked like baseball cards. We had our own baseball cards!!!!! Now THAT was AWESOME!! All the kids in our neighborhood used to congregate at our house and we would play baseball, literally, all day. It was such a spellbinding, magical moment when, for that one short time, my dad came out and tried to play. We thought that was the coolest thing ever….even if he wasn’t that good 🙂

My dad had his own little Photography Studio in a sleepy, seaside New Jersey town.  It was always a magical time when I walked into his shop, viewed all the pictures that he took, smelled the chemicals from the Dark Room, saw his set-ups that he would use for his photo shoots. In the autumn, every Saturday after the local high school would finish their football game, they would have a parade down Main Street if they won. It was a wonderful experience sitting there in front of his shop watching the players, cheerleaders and the band while drinking an ice cold soda.  On most Saturdays my brother and I would meet him at his shop and we would go across the street and eat this awesome pizza or baked lasagna then play Pac-Man while we were waiting for the food to come out. It seemed like everywhere we went, everyone knew my dad and he knew them. It was really sort of cool. After church each Sunday, we would go to the bakery in town and get freshly made Jewish rye bread. Man, was that GOOD! The bread would still be warm from coming out of the oven. The crust would be nice and crispy and the bread itself, moist and chewy. Then we would go to his studio and watch TV and eat snacks while watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. On our way home, he would tell my brother and I to make sure that we ate a lot during the Sundaydinner so that my grandma and mom wouldn’t get mad.

Since we lived around the ocean, my dad would take us fishing around some boating piers and occasionally fish at the beach itself, surf casting. But most of the time, we fished by the piers trying to catch Snappers (or baby bluefish) around dinner time and stayed there until the sun went down. There was nothing better in life then to sit by those piers, drinking a Welsh’s grade soda, watching beautiful sunsets and watching the moon and stars begin their nightly dance. We would find sticks and try to hit the Jellyfish to watch them glow (that’s what they do when they get touched at night).

So, here I sit today, smiling to myself remembering the many special times that I shared with my dad…his laugh, his smile and his corny jokes. Today, his photography studio is gone, the bakery sold out years ago, the diner is no longer there, the Boy Scout camp was disbanded a long time ago and all of my neighborhood friends have all moved away.  My love and admiration of my father will never go away and will forever be in my heart…..for my father will always be more than my dad….he will forever be…my best friend.

The Amazing Healing Powers of Animals: Caleb’s Story

Photo Credit: Sean Freese via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Sean Freese via CC Flickr

This is a story of a young boy, Caleb, who was involved on a horrible accident which left him with various broken bones and a severe brain injury. Doctors said that he would probably never recover…or live at all.

Along came a therapy dog, named Colonel, that would change this little boys life, and his family forever.

It is fascinating to me how God can sometimes work His miracles through animals. It really does remind me of the true reason why God made animals and allowed them to live with us side by side.

This story is an amazing one…one that will touch your heart in a special way and warm your heart and, hopefully, remind you that there is always hope for a miracle when a situation may seem impossible.

This video clip will almost certainly bring a tear to your eye…so tissues may be required.


Tribute to a Therapy Dog
by Cheryl Goede

I am in the hospital, I must try and get well
The reasons why are varied, we each have our stories to tell
Some days are bad some days are good,
the wish to “get well” is understood
My body has grown weak, I’ve felt so tired,
but you walked in, and new dreams were inspired.
I was losing hope and at the end of my rope,
but your friendship saved, new hurdles are easily braved.
I walked the corridors with you, laughing with glee,
to have you with me was all I would need.
You cuddled me close, kissed my hands and my face,
your love is priceless, could never be replaced.
And if for some reason, I could not stay,
it wasn’t your fault, don’t think that way.
I’ll tell all the angels, when heaven I see,
how happy you made me, your love carried me.

The Most Important Part of the Body

Credit: Ron Sanderson

Credit: Ron Sanderson

What do you think is the most important part of your body?

I recently came across this story on “Inspirational Stories for Your Soul” that I thought was intriguing and which raised a good question…what is the most important part of the human body? Can you guess what it might be? The answer may surprise…and inspire you!

My mother used to ask me what is the most important part of the body and, through the years, I would take a guess at what I thought was the correct answer.

When I was younger, I thought sound was very important to us as humans so I said “my ears, mommy”.
She said “No, many people are deaf. But you keep thinking about it and I will ask you again soon.”

Several years passed before she asked me again. Since my last attempt, I contemplated a correct answer. So I told her “Mommy, sight is very important to everybody, so it must be our eyes.”
She looked at me and told me that I was learning fast but the answer is not correct because there are many people who are blind.

Stumped again, I continued my quest for knowledge and over the years she asked me a couple more times and always the same answer “No. But you are getting smarter every year, my young child.”

Then last year my Grandpa died. Everybody was hurt. Everybody was crying. Even my father cried. I remember that especially because it is only the second time I saw him cry.
My Mom looked at me when it was our turn to say our final good-bye to Grandpa.

She asked me “Do you know the most important body part yet? And I was shocked she asked me this now. I always thought this was a game between her and me.
She saw the confusion on my face and told me, “This question is very important. It shows that you have really lived in your life. For every body part you gave me in the past, I have told you that it was wrong and given you an example why. But today is the day you need to learn this important lesson.”

She looked down at me like only a mother can. I saw her eyes well up with tears. She said,
“Son the most important body part is your shoulder.” Was it because it held up my head?
She replied, “No, because it can hold the head of a friend or loved one when they cry. Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on sometime in life, my son.

I only hope that you have enough love and friends that you will always have a shoulder to cry on when you need it.”

Then and there I knew the most important body part was not selfish, it was sympathetic to the pain of OTHERS.

You are a friend and, whenever you want, you can cry on my shoulder!!!

People will forget what you said.
People will forget what you did,

BUT REMEMBER…

People will never forget how you made them feel.