“Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable…”
Adherents of Lent (Ash Wednesday is Feb. 25) and Passover (begins at sundown on April 8) won’t mind repeating of biblical injunction, or its “acceptable unto thee, our strength and our redeemer” ending. For others, an “acceptable to the cause of communication that nurtures and heals” ending may be suitable.
Quality communication is always a primary (primal?) need, but especially in times of near record losses of jobs, businesses, adequate incomes and habitable homes. Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church’s senior minister, Dr. Fred Anderson, says the church will soon offer programs for those who have lost jobs and businesses. He understands how “even in these times people, perhaps especially males, are even ashamed to have lost a business or job.”
Incidentally, cheers to Church of the Epiphany for being this paper’s faithful advertiser (newspapers must be kept alive and well to deliver “news to live by”). Epiphany’s advertised Lenten series is called The Ten Commandments—Formula for Liberation.” Well, nothing is more truly liberating than communication that nurtures and heals.
Maybe these programs will consider the empathy definition columnist Lorraine Duffy Merkl says “hits pay dirt” in her June 19 column. She mentions the book Enough is Enough, by Laurie Ashner and Mitch Meyerson, which says, “True empathy…is a gift few people receive from others. It’s the missing link for those of us who go through life feeling empty.”
This link is not often found in current secular forces that so shape customs and views. Ah, but it’s surely present in the classic July 1999 Woman’s Day piece “Lend an Ear,” shared by Lynn G., a loyal Our Town reader and civic activist. It’s about listening—to a problem, a trouble, or even an unexpected success, without bringing ourselves into the mix—too soon, or maybe at all.
Author Roberta Israeloff is grateful she was kept from responding with her own horror story when her mother-in-law phoned about driving home in a blinding snowstorm. Thankfully, someone knocked on her mother-in-law’s door, but before singing off she thanked her daughter-in-law “for listening and not telling me your worst car story.”
No, she wasn’t being sarcastic, just grateful. “In the days ahead,” Israeloff writes, “I often thought about the wisdom of those parting words. I can’t count the times I’ve begun to complain—about a fight with my son, a professional disappointment, or even car problems, only to have a friend cut me off with, ‘The same thing happened to me.’ And suddenly we’re talking about her ungrateful kid, her lousy bosses, her leaky fuel line. And I’m left nodding my head in all the right places wondering if we haven’t all come down with a bad case of emotional attention deficit disorder.” Identify, maybe?
Of course, she’s not defending the habitual monologist, or this “Share the Talk Club” founding member would also be frowning. Rather, it is a cri du couer for empathic listening, and sometimes emphatic response (silence is not always golden), to overcome this emotional attention deficit disorder, which 10 years later is still socially acceptable and has even advanced. Help! And for a copy of “Lend an Ear,” email me.
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