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hearingIn the parables – like this morning’s “sower and the seed” (MK 4: 1-20) – Jesus often uses the dictum, “Whoever has ears ought to hear.” If it doesn’t just roll by our ears as a fitting wrap-up to the story, we might notice that Jesus is going for something deeper than physical hearing. Everyone who is not deaf has “ears to hear” but not all of us take the trouble to really listen. And actually even deaf people have physical ears so they are included too in what Jesus is saying. Later in the text this morning, Jesus reiterates and clarifies, using two of our senses this time. They may look and see but not perceive, and hear but not understand, he says. He’s talking about the kingdom of God, of course, which he says is a mystery that only makes sense to those who go beyond the senses to understand it. So how do we do that? Practice, practice, practice. Staying awake on a deeper level, letting go of the automatic pilot that we take for consciousness that is our normal way of functioning. (How often do you enter a room and say, “What was I coming in here for?”) Noticing subtleties in conversation, like shifts in tone, or really tasting what you are eating – being aware of the process of chewing and swallowing. Noting as well feelings that arise for no reason or interesting words in what you read, stopping to let them sink into you. Waking up in these ways presupposes allowing some quiet in our lives, so silence is a longer step to take toward that goal of perception and understanding of the reign of God which is already in our midst. If we are silent we begin to activate our inner senses and just might hear God speaking to us in a language that is inaccessible to our physical ears or eyes. No effort can achieve it but practice can open up a spaciousness in us that leaves us ready for just such a gift, given sometimes when we least expect it!