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Monday, January 7, 2013


Word for the Day

Today’s Word:  Hearing.

            My Christmas was not much different from that of many people.  Lots of things to eat and a bunch of gifts to open and everyone wants to see how the littlest enjoy their presents.  We enjoyed games like “Awkward Family Photos” and talked about Christmases from times past.
            No, my Christmas is like many, except in one way.
            I narrate the Holmes Live Nativity.  Come with me, in your imagination, to a big steel building with a dirt floor originally made as a horse arena.  On one side is a wooden “stable” with a lighted star above.  On either side of the stable are pens, one for some sheep and another for some calves.  With anywhere from 100 to 400 people watching and listening I read the story from the biblical books of Luke and Matthew. 
            Joseph and Mary come to the stable where she sits on a bale of hay and holds the “newborn king” (just a doll with the cold temperatures).  As I read the shepherds, wise men and the angels all move about the scene until they are all gathered up front, surrounding Joseph and Mary and the babe in the manger.  Songs are sung, climaxing in “Silent Night” at the very end.
            I enjoy doing the narration and qualify for the position because I am the loudest in my church.  I have bragged that children or distracting noises cannot overcome my vocal power.  However, I had never met this calf.
            His owner called the four-month-old calf a “runt” but you wouldn’t know that by the sound of the moo.  And, on our first showing on Sunday, he mooed.  At first I tried to talk over him.  But no one could hear my voice because the “runt” drowned me out.  I moved over and looked the calf in the eye and he stopped, for a moment.  Finally I had to just talk in between the moos.
            I thought about how to shut the calf’s mouth or to intimidate the animal somehow so it would know to keep quiet.  But I forgot in the busy moments between showings and started the next one without noticing … the quiet.  The calf was silent.
            His owner had given him some hay.   I don’t know what I had thought – that something was wrong with the calf, or it missed the herd, or what.  But it hadn’t occurred to me that the calf was simply hungry. 
            Wow, I wonder how many other needs I have missed over the years (and I don’t mean runt calves)?  What might look like anger is really depression.  What seems to be pride is really poor self esteem.  The “moo” might not mean what I think. 
            This brings a couple of things to mind.
            First, I ought to measure my response carefully.  If I might be wrong about the source of the “moo,” I need to be careful and thoughtful about how I respond. 
            Second, I wonder what kind of “mooing” people might hear from me.  I think I’m clear, but what kind of sounds do others hear?  What do they think I’m saying?  Does my "moo" drown out their voice?
            Third, “hearing” is more than the vibration of my ear drum.  Hearing involves thinking, asking questions and looking to others to help find answers.  Let's not settle for the easy first answer.  
            In this new year, listen closely.  What might sound like just another moo might be a hidden need, a new story or just something needing your attention.    

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