Friday, March 11, 2016

Giving Up Interupting and Learning to Listen for Lent. Patron Saints of Sore Throats & of Hearing Loss.

This year I was hoping to give up something much easier than the swearing I tried to give up last year.  I figure I can do most anything for the 40 days of Lent.  Over time, the occasional swear word has slipped back into the open spaces of my conversations.  Nature abhors a vacuum and I have done my part to fill it. I'm still committed to not swear but it is damn hard to be disciplined when I'm frustrated, stressed, tired or trying to emphasize a point to someone who is not listening. While I remain devoted to finding other words to express myself, I decided to commit to something even more personally challenging for Lent this year.

First of all, for those of you who don't know much about the forty days of Lent, it begins with Ash Wednesday and ends on the Thursday prior to Easter Sunday and can feel like all of eternity.  It is a time of prayer, discipline and reflection as a means of spiritual renewal and growth.  It is a time to reflect on Christ's sacrifice on the cross for our sins.  A time to elevate our personal spiritual state by abstaining from things that distract us from being a better person. I love the idea of giving up something to show my conviction because it forces me to acknowledge my weaknesses and practice self discipline.  I know I should be living every day in that way instead of committing to just 40 days but I only seem to be able to bite off small chunks. Anything more makes me lose my appetite.

So I have given up "interrupting".  Yes, that's right.  My brain moves too fast.  I don't know how to slow down and listen.  I have mistakenly thought my opinion was more essential to a conversation than listening.  I actually believed it was important to voice what I thought rather than hear what others were trying to tell me. Recently, I had a revelation, a hot sweaty revelation that my opinion was irrelevant to the conversation I was having.  I found myself speechless as the other person continued to share their feelings with me and it made for the best conversation ever.  It felt good to listen and really hear what the the other person was trying to tell me.  Then it hit me.  I'm addicted to interrupting and I need to quit it now!  So I made a commitment for Lent to not interrupt anyone. I'm only a few weeks into it and it has already proven to be a much greater challenge than giving up swearing, chocolate or sleeping late.  It embarrasses me to think it took so long to figure it out.
St. Blaise "Patron Saint of Sore Throats

The first thing I needed to do was find a saint that could really lend a hand in keeping my mouth shut.  I need all the support I can get since, it is second nature to tell everyone what I think about everything.  As I pondered how to give up interrupting, I wondered if I needed to see my doctor and get medicine for Adult Attention Deficit Disorder since I find myself already replying before someone has even finished their question. I thought I might need to attend a support group for Interrupters.  I suspect the meetings are either deafeningly quiet or everyone talks at once.  I decided finding the right saint to intervene would be my best bet.  Where to begin?

I thought first of St. Blaise, Patron Saint of Sore Throats, throat illnesses and choking, wild animals, wool combers and wool trading, quite a dossier.  Physicians' documents from the 3rd century in Armenia, where St. Blaise resided, speak of his skill in helping people with objects caught in the throat.  He later became a physician of the souls, teaching by actions rather than words.  People flocked to him to be cured both for physical and spiritual ills. I pray silently to him to intervene, helping me to catch my words before they leave my mouth and interrupt one more person.

St. Francois de Sales
Once I realized that words weren't necessary, I began looking  for a saint that could help me be more thoughtful, help me listen with my two ears and learn to keep my mouth shut.  So that is where St. Francois de Sales, the Patron Saint of Hearing Loss can intervene.  Somewhere along the way I lost my hearing.  I quit listening and started talking, telling everyone what I thought as if it was more important then hearing what others are trying to share with me.  I've been praying to St. Francois to perform a miracle with my deafness and help me to listen.  I've ask for his help in learning what I think and say is of little value if I don't know what matters to those I love.      
 "Mere silence is not wisdom, 
  for wisdom consists of knowing 
  when and how to speak,
  and when and where to keep silent."