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On listening and learning and living

Listen. The cicadas are chanting. Their anthem has several parts, the refrain swelling with raucous confidence. I’m no expert, but even I know those males are announcing to the females that summer belongs to them… that they own the tree-tops and all of Texas and this blazing inferno named “July.” They sing with all the bravado of those who don’t know they’ll be gone in a few weeks, such a short-lived escape from the underworld. Or maybe they sing so wildly because they know they’ll be gone in a few weeks, such a short-lived escape from the underworld…

Listen. The wind is shifting and shuffling through the oak trees, like waves of sky crashing on shores of leaves as they play ocean together. Like a mother softly hushing her baby’s sobs. Like heaven exhaling grace over this whole place, because it hears our sobs…

I listen to these summer songs and let their melodies remind me that fascinating rhythms and beautiful rhymes are woven into the world around me in a thousand ways that I carelessly overlook. Tell me about the world you made, Creator of Cicadas and Summertime, I am listening…

I find that time spent in the quiet often soothes the blisters that come from all the other things my days find me listening to: the shrieking spin of the media, the reckless fear mongering, the names- precious and haunting- of the most recently fallen Image Bearers, the warring tribes launching their hate speech at each other while shamelessly justifying their own toxic spews. We must hear it- because this is the hour to which we were born and we have a part to play on this stage. But honestly, honestly, we may only hear so much of it before we begin to warp and wither under its fumes. Listen at your own risk, brave humans. Listen, but know that the volume of noise in this world will leave that ringing sound in your soul for a long time. Teach me, Man on a Cross, how to listen to the lies and insults… and breathe out blessing in return.

Listen. The Word speaks, spills the secrets of Life on ancient pages, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.Tell me about my own heart, Word of God; I need to hear this. Eager listening. Careful speaking. Controlled temper. It is a foreign language in this universe, a rhythm far more mysterious than the cycle of the cicadas. This earth begs that it be learned, and I beg to learn it.

If we have begun to believe that other Image Bearers are the Enemy, then we have been listening too long to the lies. If we have begun to fear that the world is spiraling out of control, then we have not been listening long enough to Truth: to the one who wrote his greatness into this earth in a million ways… who wrote the Word of his unshakable hope to give us an anchor… who wrote his overwhelming love into humanity through a person who speaks to us still. Listen to him, those of you who are tired in this world, listen: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” For the love of God and the love of humanity and the survival of my own soul, yes.

Let me be found listening wisely to him.

Let me be found learning well from him.

Let me be found living in wonder of him.

 

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