We are thankful for Patricia Belcher Eastwood for being our guest writer for this week's Take a Turn Tuesday.
Tuesday, November 6th
Thankful Hearts: The Five Senses
Today, I am thankful for . . . the sense of HEARING
“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” Psalm 33:1-3
When asked to write about my thankfulness for hearing, I was surprised and wondered if some of my Soul Sisters knew that I had a profound hearing loss. I did not remember mentioning it to anyone at the Retreat. But, in fact, the inviting leader did not know that I have been profoundly and completely deaf in my left ear since infancy or that my family suffers from progressive hearing loss with aging. I am reminded when visiting my elderly relatives that I will never hear better than I do right now. For these reasons, I am not only thankful for hearing sound, I also want to get the most out of that sense while I have it.
Hearing is understood as a means by which we humans experience much good in the world. The sounds of our loved ones’ voices and the quiet rumbles of nature provide us great joy. Music transports us to places in our memories as well as provides us guideposts to happiness or understanding of greater truths. Words we hear can comfort and heal. Some words are even divinely inspired and to hear them is transformative. Psalm 29:4-5 reminds us that sound is exciting (we all know that from movie trailers!), when the author says, “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;” If you have ever heard a tree felled, you know the sound of cracking timber and the loud thud of it hitting the ground. It’s distinctive – this forest crashing metaphor for the voice of the Lord is wonderful, I think – powerful, loud and distinctive. Quiet sounds can also be exciting – like the whisper of a first “I love you” or the cry of a newborn baby. The Lord has indeed blessed us with sound and the ability to hear and interpret it and we are reminded by sound imagery of the Lord’s power and might in our lives.
Hearing also provides us great security and comfort in ways we can easily take for granted. When a person does not perceive sound or complete sound, it creates a gap in their safety and problem solving that can feel scary. My grandmother died at 99 and she was completely blind and deaf during that last year of her life. Our family used the sense of touch to communicate our love, but the doctors explained that she would likely hallucinate because her lost senses and their grounding effects were gone. Indeed, she did experience those symptoms. My personal hearing limitations mean that I do not have stereo-effect or directional hearing. While I can laugh that my enjoyment of Bon Jovi was never optimal, I cannot laugh about not being able to tell from which direction a zooming ambulance is racing, when I am in an intersection. I have known the panic of losing a toddler-aged daughter in the mall and having her call to me (“Mommy, where are you, please find me!), as I helplessly spin around trying to capture her sounds using my one good ear – all while depending on confused salespeople to help me. My life experiences with limited hearing have evidenced to me that sound (for those that can hear it) grounds us to His creation and our loved ones, if it is heard and heard completely.
We know that sound is not the only way to communicate and many people, maybe some Soul Sisters, experience the world fully without the sense of hearing. So, is having the sense of hearing the same as hearing? I think this is an important question. While I have managed throughout my life to cope with the moments of fear and embarrassment associated with a hearing deficit, throughout my middle age years, I have been asking whether I hear my loved ones and others as I should. Do I receive the full blessing that God wants for me in relation to my hearing? I know persons that hear far worse than I do that listen better and hear more. Logically, I know that my sense of hearing should make it easy for me to listen; but alas, it does not. Listening effectively is a challenge for me. For this reason, my word this year is “Quick” as in James 1:19, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” When I have improved my listening skills, I know that I will more fully receive the blessing of my sense of hearing.
Sisters, as we think about the miracle of hearing, let us praise God for how it makes the world exciting and joyful and connects us to each other. Let us appreciate the hearing we have and commit fully to listening well to all that God wants us to hear. Turn up your radio, pray with a friend, make a toddler laugh, sing a song, yodel, walk in a forest, ask why your dog is barking, call your mom instead of texting - God has given us a gift with the sense of hearing and we should enjoy it!
As we celebrate the blessing of hearing, please share any thoughts you have about being thankful for this important sense and how being able to hear has touched your life or heart.
For further reading: Psalm 150; Psalm 29: 3-9
Thank you for the sense of hearing sound and for the opportunity to listen using that blessing. We know that not everyone can physically hear perfectly, but we are so thankful you have given us multiple ways to experience the world and that hearing is among them. Thank you for sound, Lord. Thank you for adding joy to our lives and understanding of our world through sound. Help us, Lord, to appreciate all of the senses you have given each of us and, if hearing is among them, help us to use it to receive more fully all of your blessings. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen