Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply.
~ Steven R. Covey
Our pastor suggested a different approach: listen to the noise. Huh? Before I could tune him out, he explained he could hear love in the voice of a shopping mom debating which color sweater her teenager would prefer. He could hear the joy in children laughing as they make Christmas ornaments; he could hear hope and optimism in the words of traditional carols.
If I listen to my heart, I understand the commercialism and materialism which seem to dominate the holidays conflict with my pursuit of a simpler, less cluttered life. At a time when people decorate every corner with lights and color, fill the air with fa-la-la-la-las, heap piles of wrapped items under trees, and indulge in a foodfest of sweet and savory treats, I crave order. I need space, serene colors, soft sounds. I fear derailing my progress toward getting healthier; I fear accumulating more things to replace those I've systematically been letting go of. I do want to be able to enjoy this special time of year, but I don't want to be consumed by it.
I think this season I will celebrate by listening - to others, to the noise, to the quiet. Let the understanding begin.