Second Sunday in Advent: Listening
They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell.
Whoever wrote Psalm 115 wasn’t thinking of students—he was thinking of little idols made of silver and gold—but he surely could have been! Even though my students have ears, many times they do not hear a word I say—or else they practice highly selective listening!
“J-Boy, get back in your seat!” I say to one of my most active students at least three dozen times a day. I wish I were exaggerating, but I’m not. (Does this kid have rocks in his ears?)
“We did problems like this together ten minutes ago,” I say to T-Girl, as she asks me—again—how to round numbers to the nearest hundred.
“If you’re talking, you’re obviously not reading,” I say—for the third time—during the daily ten-minute period of SSR (Silent Sustained Reading).
And then there is the phrase I use so often during the day that I sometimes get sick of hearing myself say it: “How many times do I have to tell you ____ [fill in the blank]?”
Two of my students do have hearing impairments—but what about the other twenty? What’s their excuse? I’ve come to the conclusion that they are like the idols of silver and gold, contemned by the psalmist: They have ears, but do not hear.
Lest I become too smug, however, I need to ask myself: How’s my hearing? Am I listening for the voice of the Spirit throughout the day?
Do I hear the Spirit telling me to be gentle with the child who heard his mother getting beat up—again—last night?
Do I hear the Spirit telling me to be patient with the child for whom math is a struggle, and who may need to have a concept explained and illustrated fifteen—or more—times until she finally “gets” it?
Do I hear the Spirit telling me to figure out ways to get these kids out of their seats and on their feet, because once the bottom goes numb, so does the mind?
Am I able to hear the almost imperceptible whispers of God throughout the day?
Advent is the season of preparing a place for the Holy One in my life. One of the ways I can do that is by listening to the Spirit speaking to me through the actions of my students.