I remember reading about a person—don't remember if it was a mom or a dad—whose child kept saying, “Listen! Listen to me!”
Finally, in exasperation the parent said, “I am listening!”
The child corrected...”I mean listen with your EYES.”
That small person realized at a young age what we too often miss in our busy lives...listening—REAL listening--involves more that just ears. It requires full attention: eyes locked, hands stilled, heart engaged, focused attention.
This idea has taken on new meaning for me recently, as my husband has taken a job that keeps him gone from seven to twenty-one days at a time. Far away in a remote location with no computer, all we have (and I'm grateful for it) is a phone call twice a day. I can't listen with my eyes when we are talking; I can't gaze into his eyes as he speaks.
However, I still have to think about listening with my eyes.
Because although I can't look at him, my eyes can keep me from listening when they draw my attention elsewhere. The computer. The stack of dishes left from dinner. The book I'm in the middle of.
Then, because my eyes have seen, my hands want to fix and fiddle, wander. Before I realize it, I'm asking, “What did you just say? I didn't hear.”
The truth is that my EARS heard what he said, but I didn't hear it because my mind and my heart were elsewhere.
So, I'm trying a new method of listening. Listening without my eyes. When the phone rings now, and I see it's my Cowboy, I leave the room I'm in, lie down still on my bed, and close my eyes so that my whole focus is on really listening.
That's how to stay heart-close even with the Gulf of Mexico between us.