Notes from Jan

Hard of Hearing or Just Not Listening?

March 3, 2020

Last week in Sunday School we talked about Lent as a Season to Listen.

Surrounded by clamoring voices, social media, streaming music, pinging cell phones, it’s challenging to hear, a physical function, and even harder to listen, which engages the mind and heart to pay attention and try to understand.

Listening involves attentive silence and a willingness to wait before responding.

Jane, a friend, shared this acrostic  for  W A I T.

W why

A am

I    I

T talking?

Isn’t it striking that of all the commands God could’ve given to Peter, James and John  when they stood on the mountain of transfiguration with Jesus, God chooses,”This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” (Mark 9:7 NLT)  God didn’t shout,”Bow down and worship my son; God said,”Listen to him.”

Real listening’s hard to do, so is experiencing silence.

Silence  makes most of us nervous and eager to fill in the space.

In Word by Word, Marilyn McEntyre writes, “Silence allows the silt to settle so we can see what gleams and swims below the surface.”

Our culture’s knee-deep in silt.

Some days I can’t see my own feet from the hubbub of my own “much ado about nothing.”

For several days the second verse of an old hymn, written in 1897 by Clara Scott,(No, I didn’t personally know her!) keeps returning, nudging me to be still, wait and listen.

“Open my ears, that I may hear

Voices of truth thou sendest clear

And while the wave notes fall on my ear

Everything else will disappear.

Silently now I wait for Thee

Ready, my God, thy will to see,

Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit Divine.”












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  • Reply Myrna March 3, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    It’s been years since I heard that hymn.. good reminder.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 4, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      It’s an old one. My years as a Baptist preacher’s kid with all those Sunday night services gave me a wide range of songs and hymns. I’m grateful.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe March 3, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    Jan, I read and appreciate all of your posts. This one I printed out to keep and quote. Thank you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 4, 2020 at 7:55 pm

      And I appreciate yours, Maggie. Thank you for reading and taking time to respond or copy something to pass along. We’re in this together.

  • Reply David L Smith March 3, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    Ahh, a favorite hymn, haven’t sung it inna long time!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 4, 2020 at 7:56 pm

      Me, either. Always good to hear from you David or see you at an event on campus.

  • Reply Shirley Westrate March 3, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    I can hear Grandma Winsor’s voice singing those words!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 4, 2020 at 7:58 pm

      Join her on the third verse,, which begins, “Open my mouth…”

  • Reply Radina Welton March 4, 2020 at 8:25 am

    Beautifully written! As a certified spiritual director, it’s a theme I’ve been majorly/formally trained in but forever need reminding. Thank you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 4, 2020 at 8:00 pm

      Most of us need tutoring in listening, so many distractions. Frederich Buechner writes,”Listen to your life. All moments matter.”

  • Reply Wendy Lane March 4, 2020 at 11:43 am

    Why am I talking? I love it! And “Listening involves attentive silence and a willingness to wait before responding.” That is a loaded sentence – A good reminder to be attentive when I’m listening and not busy thinking about my response (even if I”m being “good” and waiting to respond!) I just looked up that hymn on youtube – I’m familiar with it, but was good to hear it and see all the verses. Thank you for sharing Jan!! <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 4, 2020 at 8:03 pm

      You’re welcome, Wendy. It did me good to recall, then sing all three verses behind closed doors.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 4, 2020 at 8:05 pm

      You’re welcome, Wendy. It did me good to recall, then sing all 3 verses behind closed doors.

  • Reply Anna iltis March 4, 2020 at 1:14 pm


  • Reply Radina Welton March 4, 2020 at 8:42 pm

    Replying to your reply: For sure! Buechner’s one of my favorites. I’ve read almost all of his books and I’m connected to his FB postings. He’s a fellow Vermonter and I’ve hiked a few years ago around his inlaw’s property near Dorset. I assume he still lives. In his late nineties now I think.

  • Reply Eleanor Towle March 7, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Dear Jan, This hymn was sung the night of my baptism 1952. Always bring back memories. Eleanor

  • Reply Nancy Mering March 9, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    So many responses! This struck a chord with a lot of us. Two categories that have been part of my Christian formation:
    “Careless Listener” (from a sermon close to 50 years ago) and “Active Listener.” I always enjoy looking around a listening crowd to see the truly active, engaged listeners. That’s such a gift for the speaker. Presumably, it brings the Lord a lot of satisfaction when his children listen actively . . . And, I’m a fan of Marilyn McEntyre. I have a couple of her books, but don’t have the one you mention here.

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