Readings for Today
My father, who recently passed away, had one ear that did not work well, thanks to Scarlet Fever as a kid. And so from the earliest memories of my childhood, the importance of speaking clearly and loudly was emphasized. I learned sitting on my dad’s left was better than his right. I learned that not only did the hearing aid he had amplify our voices, but every other sound as well. And I learned how much my father missed in conversation. At the end of his life, I learned how important it was to lean right into his “good ear” and to speak loudly, as even that ear was becoming ineffective. In short, I learned just how important it was to hear.
I could only imagine how frustrating it was for my father to hear all noise, not just what people with good hearing can hear because the useless noise gets filtered out, how frustrating it was for my father to have all noise amplified indiscriminately. For him, the voices of those he loved came to him no differently the banging of pots and pans in the kitchen when we were out to eat at a restaurant. For him, the action of discernment of noises was that much harder for my dad than it was for us who did not need to wear a hearing aid.
I think of my dad’s hearing when the first reading comes to mind. Samuel was too young to hear the voice of God and to know it. Eli was distracted (albeit by one of my favorite activities, sleeping) to know it was the Lord who was calling the lad. We are told that Samuel did not recognize the Lord because, “at that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD.”
Are you familiar with the Lord? When I was a child I did not really hear much about the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus. We had a lot of things we needed to know, facts about our faith, and we did memorize prayers, but I cannot recall much about trying to do what I could to foster a personal relationship with Jesus. Even when I felt invited in high school to participate in a fundamentalist Christian church, while I was told to accept Jesus as my personal Savior, I do not remember it as a time to develop any kind of relationship that was going to change my life.