Elul 8

#BlogElul – Hear

The problem with hearing is that it involves listening. I do that like crap. My mind is busy, my life is busy, my heart is busy. I have my own thoughts going through my head. So, I don’t always listen to people as well as I can. Which means I don’t always hear what they’re saying. On top of which, 80% of communication is non-verbal and I hear little of that – this also makes the whole hearing thing more difficult.

Hearing also makes me feel guilty and so I don’t like to do it. For instance, is that surly voice or pouty face on the part of a loved one due to my actions? If I acknowledge it is, and I actually pay attention to the fact that she just made a comment about something I do, then I might have to realize that this is important to her and that I need to do the work of changing it. If I just say, “oh, she made a minor comment and there’s nothing there,” I don’t have anything I have to do. Having less to do is good, as I have a lot to do. So, I cheat and pretend I didn’t hear.

The problem is that like any other skill, the skill of paying attention only gets better as I practice it. The more careful attention I pay, the better I get at hearing others. The less attention I pay, the more I avoid listening, and make excuses not to understand, the better I get at that.

Hearing is so crucial to being Jewish that our key prayer begins with this word. It is called the Shema, the Hearing. It says “Hear, oh, Israel, the Eternal is our God, the Eternal is one!” We have to pay attention to the existence and unity of God. That’s it. That’s what the prayer says every day. I say it to myself 2-3 times a day. I say it to the kids when I put them to bed. I say it every time I pray in Shul with others. I say it a lot. And its main reminder is to hear.

One of the people I care for said he read my blog and it was good, but he didn’t really remember what it was about because they’re all kind of the same aren’t they? So, I need to hear that too. There’s no point saying the same thing over and over again. Today, maybe I’ll look at the Shema. That’s different.

Hear – pay attention. Focus. Stop thinking of yourself and your own plans and your own needs long enough to recognize that others have plans and needs and that the world has beauty and love and goodness and flowers and kittens.

Israel – struggle with God (the real meaning of that word). Realize it isn’t easy. Accept the challenge. Answer back when you disagree (it’s a good way to show you’re at least paying enough attention to disagree.)  Allow unhappy feelings. Allow happy ones.

Eternal – there are things I don’t know and won’t know. There are limitations. Accept limitations and lack of understanding and appreciate how far beyond me the universe extends. Feel small and hear the world as a tiny intrinsic part of it.

Our God – Belong. Follow the example of God, who hears. Know that there is a community of people you are a part of and be part of that community so that others have it too. Hear so that God is truly “our”.

Eternal – Go from small to large. Appreciate vastness. Appreciate difference. Appreciate that every situation and every word said and every experience is different and there are an enormous number of them. Hear to be part of infinity.

One – Connect. Build the connections that hearing can form. Experience interconnectedness and hear the fact that there’s a little need you can fulfil. And as you bring a glass of water, read a story, call or text, write something – realize you’re building the Oneness of God.

Today, I will once again say the Shema. Today, I will try to pay attention to the God in everything. Today, I will exercise my hearing muscle just a tiny bit. I may never be good at hearing but with practice, I can be better.


Posted on September 13, 2016, in Elul and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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