I’m always fascinated by the way that names can stick. When my eldest Grandchild, Holly, was learning to speak, she couldn’t quite manage all the consonants in the term ‘Grandpa’, so, instead she made do, as an approximation, with ‘Papa’. Ever since then the name ‘Papa’ has stuck.
One of my favourite memories of Holly was when we were once wandering round a supermarket together. I was trying to think of all the things I had to buy, and she was busy chattering away to me about all she could see. I thought I was doing a rather good job of pretending to be attentive until suddenly I felt her little hand tugging at my sleeve, and I heard her stern young voice say, “Papa, I’m TALKING to you!”
We live in a noisy world, full of competing demands on our attention, and sometimes we too have difficulty having our voices heard. I’ve been slowly working my way through Eugene Peterson’s ‘Reversed Thunder’ – a highly illuminating exploration of the book of Revelation. In it he comments on the degree of noise in the world around us, and the fact that the variety and volume of noise seems to be on the increase. Let’s take a moment to listen to what he has to say…*
“The world is a mob in which everyone is talking at once and no one is able or willing to listen. But God listens….
…It is rare to find anyone who listens carefully and thoroughly. It is rare to find our stammering understood, our clumsy speech deciphered, our garbled syntax unravelled, sorted out and heard – every syllable attended to, every nuance comprehended. Our minds are taken seriously, our feelings are taken seriously. When it happens we know that what we say and feel are immensely important. We acquire dignity…”
Stirring though these thoughts may be, Peterson saves the best to the end, finishing with…
“We never know how well we think or speak until we find someone who listens to us”
By the time you read these words, the season of Lent will have begun – a time to spend time with the God who listens to us. The world may well be noisy, but there are still places of silence if you look for them, and those are the best places for prayer. I wish you God’s blessing in your search.