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Spring presents an apt opportunity to listen

By: Tim W. Callaway

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 06:00 am

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“It is silent, an anagram for listen. That is what I do. Listen while she remains silent.” Eric Jerome Dickey, in Genevieve

There is something inherently curious about expending words in an effort to remind people not to overlook the importance of listening.

Yet such seems to be necessary in this culture we’ve created.

Perhaps I should clarify that by using the term listening I’m referring to that which is different than merely hearing someone or something.

Ever had that experience of driving a vehicle with the radio on only to realize after some time that you haven’t actually comprehended a thing being communicated because, although you were hearing, you were not listening?

These beautiful days of spring afford an apt opportunity for us to cultivate the craft of listening. Ironically, one of the first things we may need to do in resuscitating our capabilities in this regard is to “unplug.”

Work was recently completed on an asphalt pathway in front of our church enabling dozens of Airdrie residents to walk, jog, stroll, skate, run or even ski by as a means of enjoying the great outdoors.

One of the things I’m noticing is that many do so while “plugged in” to the ubiquitous iPod. They’re listening to their favorite musician, comedian or, um, preacher, I presume.

There’s nothing wrong with that at all, of course.

Yet, I’m going to suggest that this time of year grants a marvellous opportunity to improve our overall skills at listening by turning off technology and allowing nature to intoxicate us with its concert fit for gods.

One of my favourite pursuits in spring is to find a few moments every day to simply sit down, close my eyes and listen to nature.

Some of its melodies are easily discernible, even mesmerizing – the drumming of the rain on the roof or patio, the background chorus of birds, insects, lawn mowers and children at play in a yard.

Often, I quietly count the number of distinct sounds I hear that affirm the existence of some variety of life.

Many noises are prominent and easily identified.

Others require more intense detection skills – the whirring of a passing bird’s wings, for instance – because they can be easily missed.

Listening to nature is a good exercise for improving our effectiveness in listening to people. Sometimes what’s readily audible can actually smother that which, although it may not be as dominant in intensity, is as equally important.

Tim is pastor of Faith Community Church. He can be reached at


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