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By Laurel Pattenden

One of my favourite modern Christmas songs was written by Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne, and you know it very well. One of the lines in the second verse poses the question “Do you hear what I hear?” The little lamb wants to know if the shepherd boy is listening to the same song.

The little lamb poses a very good question. Do you hear what I hear? I highly doubt that you do hear what I hear as we are several miles away and not tuned into the same channel. But what if you were in the same room as me.  Would you hear what I hear? That would depend on all the interference happening with your attention and my attention. It would depend if we were standing there together with our earbuds (headphones) still in.

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, who you are hoping is listening to you, but they are constantly checking for texted messages or reading the menu as you speak?

Well of course you have. We all have!

Finding someone to listen, truly listen, is like trying to find Waldo. Or, for those unfamiliar with Waldo, a needle in a haystack. We are terrible listeners and that’s why Jesus wore himself out telling us that “if we have ears to hear, then hear”. He knows us so well. We are heavily wired towards talking and not listening. Have you ever been somewhere, anywhere and not been able to find a talker? Exactly.

Listening can be a scary thing to do because it is such a commitment to actually sit and open our ears and heart to someone else. Listening to someone’s story or pain has the ability to rattle us. It may shake our belief systems that we have built to protect ourselves. Listening may open us up to change and we wouldn’t want that. Listening can open us up to their pain.

But, on the other hand, it hurts so much not to be listened too. When we are not listened too, it has a way of taking our worth and validation as a person and discarding it. We have all felt this. So if we have felt this why have we not become better listeners?

I got thinking about the Christmas story and listening. What if the participants were too busy to listen? Picture Zechariah not listening to what the angel said concerning Elizabeth. Mary took time to listen to Gabriel and opened her heart to the message. What if she didn’t? The Christmas story wouldn’t have been the same if Joseph hadn’t listened to the angel and gone ahead and divorced Mary.  If the shepherds hadn’t listened they would still be sitting in their fields. The wise men would have let Herod in on the location of the Christ child if they hadn’t listened to the dream. Joseph listened, again, and was able to escape to Egypt with his family. They all listened and took to heart what they heard. They didn’t live with their earbuds in.

This Christmas, I am going to take my earbuds out and read the Christmas story and strive to listen to it. I am going to take my earbuds out and try to be a better listener to those around me. This Christmas, I hope to be more like the little lamb and hear the song. The song “with a voice as big as the sea”. This Christmas let’s give the gift of listening because when we don’t listen we miss the Story.

Laurel is retired and likes to spend her time in her art studio.