Revd Barry Overend
Bolton Abbey Parish Magazine
Ears to Hear
An American goes into a drug store to buy a hearing aid. He’s told that they cost anything from two dollars to two hundred dollars.
‘What’s the two dollar one like?’, he asks. The storeman opens a tin and pulls out a button threaded on a piece of string. ‘Put this button
in your ear’, he says, ‘and dangle the string into your pocket.’ ‘So how does it work?’ asks the customer. ‘It doesn’t’, says the storeman, ‘but
when people see it they’ll shout louder.’
Despite satellites and internet, emails, faxes and smart phones, communicating with each other still presents problems. Industrial
disputes, marriage break ups, and even international conflicts often involve somebody not communicating effectively with someone else.
Listening causes as many problems as talking. One chatterbox little girl came home from school to tell her Mum, ‘Miss says that I have to
talk less and listen louder’. Somehow listening doesn’t come as naturally as talking. Most of us are keener to say our piece than to
lend an ear. Perhaps that’s why Jesus often came out with that funny line which was almost his catch phrase: ‘If you have ears to hear, then
Here’s an English story to cap the American one with which I started. A distraught husband goes to the doctor to tell her that his wife is
going deaf. The doctor wants him to assess how serious the problem is. So she suggests that he should stand behind his wife at varying
distances and ask her a question. The man goes home and from about thirty feet away asks, ‘What’s for dinner, dear?’ No reply. He
moves a bit closer and asks again. Still no reply. Next time from within ten feet, ‘What’s for dinner, dear?’ Deadly hush. Finally from
right behind her he bellows, ‘What’s for dinner, dear?’ She rounds on him and snaps, ‘I’ve told you three times, fish and chips.’
When communication isn’t happening, it’s all too easy to assume that it’s the other person who’s the problem.