Monday, August 6, 2012

When the Mouth is Busy...

A strange quietness has descended upon our back yard. The incessant cheeps of the swallow nestlings have stopped, a sure sign the last one has finally flown off. The quiet won't last long, for the yard is a-buzz with birds, insects, frogs, and the occasional coyote - all you have to do is listen.

A great variety of birds visit our feeders and over the years we have learned to identify most of them. Often, we don't even need to see them, as we know their calls. (Those who know me well know that I also often answer them!) These include the robin, chickadee, nuthatch, grosbeak, junco, Song and White-capped sparrow. Four types of woodpeckers live in the neighborhood and each of these - the Downy, Hairy, Pileated, and Northern Flicker - has its own unique call and drumming sound. The Pileated and Flicker, especially, announce their arrival with loud piercing cries. The sharp-shinned hawk, always on the lookout for a smaller bird meal, makes the high pitched sound common to hawks. Most of these we know by heart; others we need to look up year after year as we hear them less often or for one reason or another don't remember them. The bird community we live in is a very busy and noisy place!

At Family Camp this year, as other years, I asked the kids which animal in the woods is the loudest. As always, some children threw out their best guesses - lion, bear, dog, dinosaur... Some, either because they know me and have heard this question before (Caroline) or think it through carefully before answering, correctly shout "WE are" And how right they are - I don't know about volume, but in terms of pure constant chatter, we humans must surely win hands down. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but as I remind the children: "Our ears don't work as well when our mouth is busy..."
During my growing-up years, lots of visiting took place at our family dinner table. Dad spoke of business, politics and “the early days” when his family homesteaded in eastern Montana. Mom boldly gave her opinions on current events, related tales of her girlhood, and shared family news. I chattered on and on about whatever concerned me at the time. We felt free to speak, but were expected to listen in return. It was a lesson well-learned that has served me well.

In today's world, listening is more important than ever. With multi-tasking and electronic gadgetry now a given, how often do we give others our undivided attention? When someone is speaking and another is texting, plugged in to an iPod, typing on a laptop, answering a cell phone, or watching TV, what is actually being heard?

How often is there direct eye contact, quiet listening, and appropriate response as opposed to eyes directed elsewhere, mind on other things such as formulating one's own agenda that may have nothing to do with the current conversation?

The political climate is equally interesting and the same things apply. We each have our own view and opinion and in many cases feel compelled to share them. Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but how often do we actually listen to the other points of view? It's good to remember that hearing and LISTENING are not the same things...

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.           James 1:19-20


  1. Your blog is interesting but almost impossible to read with the dark lettering on the dark background. I sometimes even have to highlight the whole thing, which changes the background to white so I can see the words. Please be kind to those of us with not perfect eyesight and lighten the background please.

  2. Anonymous - thanks for your comment and for struggling through anyway. Let me know if this new color & print size works better. I've often wondered why blogspot does not let bloggers use the entire width of the page - seems to me that would make for a more attractive blog and help those with less-than-perfect eyesight also.

  3. I totally agree with your comments about listening -- or the lack of listening.

  4. i can understand and agree with what you're saying. it seems nowadays...with all the devices, gadgetry...texting...people tend to not listen very good. it's very frustrating when you're talking to someone and in the middle of speaking, they interupt & begin to talk of something else! like they didn't hear a word out of my mouth!

    i'm happy to say i'm NOT a big talker...but a very good listener!

    also...ladybug...i don't remember having a problem reading your blog. but i suppose any light pastel color with black writing would be easier on the eyes.

    have a nice weekend!