A Listening Story

An old folktale features a farmer who comes to visit his friend in the city. As they walk through the busy market, the farmer notices the cheerful song of a nearby cricket. His city friend is amazed that he is able to hear the cricket above the noisy street. “It is not hard to understand,” says the farmer. To make his point, the farmer holds a coin up and then drops it on the ground. As the coin clinks against the pavement, everyone nearby suddenly stops to look for the money. “You see,” says the farmer. “It all depends on what you are listening for.”   

I think it is worth asking ourselves: which character in the story are we? What in the world are we listening for? Of course, the corollary is: What have we not heard? 

How often our ears catch every get-rich, get-thin, get-hip, get-happy message, while we never even notice the spoken needs of our family, our friends, our neighbors or our community! We have even taken our selective hearing to a global level: we hear the insults, the threats, the defiance of people in other places, but somehow miss the expressions of sadness, fear, loss and desperation spoken by those same people.

We listen for what we value -- and hear what we listen for! If the clink of a coin is all it takes to turn our heads, we will foolishly miss the quiet cricket song of what really matters most!

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