Talking and listening.....
Strange how I find myself just “talking” to the staff that are now stranded at the camp with me and my family. At night we can’t go out for a coffee or to a movie or even shopping. So we stay here and each night and end up just talking. These conversations have no purpose and end up with no final benedictions and summations. We’re just yakking and listening to each other.
It’s refreshing, new (for a lot of us) and needed—just to converse. Talking with no agenda can be a challenge for those of us so conditioned to getting a lot accomplished in a very restricted time, and to those who see “chit-chat” as a waste of time it’s a really not natural at all! But maybe we were wrong. Maybe staying home with the TV turned off, along with all other means of entertainment or technology, is okay. Maybe it’s better to listen to some nice music, enjoy gentle conversations, small talk, spontaneous laughter, and reminiscing and dreaming are actually good things that need to be resurrected.
Jesus spoke to crowds for hours and they always left wanting more. But evidently that talking was combined with questions and requests for clarification. It’s good to be able to ask questions, make clear what we really mean, illustrate our point, and, most emphatically to listen. Jesus did all of this. And that’s what I have been forced to discipline myself to do the most, of late—-to listen to nine year old, eleven year old, twelve year old and three young people in their twenties as they share their fears, dreams hopes and fantasies. We’re talking about puppies (all three boys for some reason have determined that they each need a new puppy to add to menagerie of five) as well as creating a time machine (to bring back Tony Stark, and also (secondly) so that if I die they can quickly go back in time and rescue me). The older ones talk about finish their studies, starting their careers and getting back to “normal”—-whatever that means.
But my younger boys are constantly referencing the Chinese/Corona Virus and they sense an inevitable reckoning on the horizon with our economy, etc. As I listen to them I wonder if they know something I don’t! They also are quick to ask “why” China allowed this to happen and what’s going to happen. Again, they put two and two together better than the most folks that work for the TV stations or newspapers.
They worry about going to the fourth, sixth and seventh grade and if they can play sports in the fall. Small matters for most of us, but for a boy, the world revolves around sports.
And finally, they talk about “What if this doesn’t stop?” Their questions might seem puerile, but they’re honest and perhaps more propitious than the folks to whom we pay to listen.
What my sons are teaching me, again and again, is that I need to listen to them. We’ve never been through a crisis like this before, but children look to the parents for the experience and knowledge that they lack. In this situation, no parent has any experience or knowledge about what is happening and how it will end—-and yet we can still provide the courage, confidence and steadfast faith that “God will provide”, that they still lack.
Let’s listen to our children! And let’s honestly answer them about what we know and what we don’t know—-and of what we can be sure: I know that my Redeemer lives, that God loves me (and them) and that He does not want anyone to be lost.