SILENT and LISTEN…the same six letters spell these two words. Stop for a moment to just be silent and listen. Really, just stop! Be silent and listen…
Most days I’m grateful to have the opportunity to stay aware of current events, but lately I find myself filled with profound sadness, grief, anger, and disappoint to watch or listen to news. On the other hand, my dad (who lives with us) spends most of his waking hours watching and listening to news, regardless of what’s being shared. While watching a national newscast just this morning the reporter was updating events and speaking with survivors from the Synagogue mass shooting in Pittsburgh when our local news interrupted with “shots fired at local high school.” I froze; as a recently retired 34-year educator, my heart stopped and breath escaped my body. Silence and intense listening occurred.
As an example, during my tenure I lived through numerous “newsworthy” events–some staged drills and others real-life events. Until retirement, I was truthfully on edge, constantly waiting for “when, not if.” Educators and learners must train for events (shelter-in-place, evacuation, and lockdown), but until the situation calls for REAL action, there is no way to predict how anyone will respond in the moment. I’ve been the teacher in the classroom with students in lockdown for four+ hours AND the administrator in charge at the command center until first-responders take command. I was one of the fortunate ones, thankfully surviving real tornadoes, massive hail storms, torrential rains with a roof collapsing, gas leaks, a building fire, lightening strikes, and multiple active shooter DRILLS, but never a real shooter on campus. After any drill or real event, we did what’s called a “hotwash.” It was my opportunity to learn…to gratefully be silent and really listen.
As another example, as one who sits in the choir loft looking into the congregation on any given Sunday morning, I’m constantly scanning the back of the church, watching anyone entering or exiting, and waiting for “the event.” In fact, every time I enter any building, form of transportation, or anyplace other than my home, I’m scanning for the nearest exit and creating a quick plan for safety purposes. SOOO much training! My family has come to appreciate this about me because they’ve learned to just be silent and listen.
In the unfortunate age of mass shootings in the country I call home, it somehow still stuns me to face a constant barrage of talking heads on social media, TV news, radio waves, and other forms of modern communication. They talk and act like they know and understand. Unless you’ve lived through an actual situation, you do not know and understand. You can appreciate the seriousness of the situation, but placing words into others’ mouths, speculating, wool-gathering, and more will not bring back human loss. Just be silent and listen!
Love, encourage, uplift, and strengthen one another…these are words I gratefully grew up hearing from the adults in my life. In these troubling times of more questions and few answers, it is more important than ever to respectfully be silent and listen. There’s a time for talking, asking questions, building others up, problem solving, and finding solutions, but learning the fine art of being silent and listening first is critical. After all, most of us have two ears and only one mouth. We are ALL part of the problem; we can ALL be part of the solutions and actions needed in moving forward First, we must be silent and listen.
So…on Day #16: What’s your personal plan to be silent and listen?
I’m gratefully and lovingly continuing to work on this daily.