In a restaurant:
“How is everything?” the waitress asked. “Lousy” my Dad replied in a good-natured tone of voice. “Great” she responded, walking on.
At the office:
“Hi, Martha, how are you?” George asked as I picked up the phone. “Good Morning, I’m . . .” was as far as I got because he’d already gone on with the favor he was calling me to ask.
“Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” Fr Rick spoke from the back of the church as the Mass came to a close. Pocketbooks were being picked up, books returned to the racks . . . eventually one or two uncertain voices did add “thanks be to God.”
My late father was an amazing man. He never met a soul who wasn’t his friend. He loved a good joke. He was the first to volunteer if anyone asked for help. He also liked to “make a statement” or “have some fun” as he called it. When people asked him those questions we hear so often that they no longer register with us, like the waitress asking how the food was the minute the first bite met his lips and before he had really tasted it, getting out an answer with his mouth full and answering the way he did was a fun way to make a point. She wasn’t listening and likely was not really aware she’d asked the question. It was a habit formed from a long time spent serving meals.
As the church service comes to a close, the priest, pastor, or minister always makes some type of closing statement and in most churches I have attended there is a response to be made from those in the congregation. Occasionally, due to a change of season in the church year, the response has to be changed a bit, but not too much. Yet, these responses issue forth from us, or not, without our giving them much thought. We are on “auto-pilot” and thus if we answer at all, it is often delayed, half-hearted, and sometimes misspoken.
We have all said “hi, how are you” many times in life. Actually, it’s spoken many times a day by most of us, especially if we are in a “customer service” line of work. Do we ever hear the answer? Do we even listen?
Listening. It is a subject which keeps coming up in conversations lately. It got me thinking about communication in general. Our ability to communicate has so amazingly increased in recent decades, years, months, even days. Technology is ever-increasing and the capabilities of the devices we cannot live without is mind-boggling. The devices themselves grow smaller and smaller in size all the time. The prices continue to drop. I am reminded of a time when, from what I’ve been told, not everyone had a home phone, a radio, a television set. Look at us now. Yet, I would have to say that our effective communication, with all these options, is in my opinion at an all time low.
I used to collect antique post cards. I have a set of penny postcards from the late 1800s or early 1900s. They are dated and clearly are a continued conversation between two young lovers. The mail was delivered twice daily at that time. I’m not a history buff, but I can tell that this is true because one post card stated “I’ll be over later on today” and spoke of riding a bicycle to get “there.” There was another card in this set which responded with “I’ll have the tea things ready.” Fast forward to this weekend when I called and left a message for a friend, but didn’t hear back and thus emailed. I needed to contact another friend and sent an email, but when he didn’t show any sign of having seen my message, I sent him a text message from my cell phone to his. I spoke to him yesterday in person and he showed no sign of having seen or heard any of these attempts to contact him.
Communication . . . listening . . . this brings me back to the debates of late on whether God really does speak to us. I know He does. The Bible also tells me He does.
“When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John -10:4
“For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice” – Psalm 95:7-8
“But this thing commanded I them, saying, “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be My people; and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.” –Jeremiah 7:23
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” -John 10:27
No, in answer to the question posed in the title of this writing, heaven does not have Wi-Fi. I don’t think it would matter if it did. The answer to effective communication is effective listening. If we don’t effectively listen to the individual standing a foot away from us, chances are we are not effectively listening to our Lord God either. We’re human. We’re flawed. We’ve forgiven. We can be changed. Ask Him. He’ll tell you.