Telephone by Michel Quoist is not a novel, but a short pithy prayer. It ends: “Forgive me, Lord, for we were connected, and now we are cut off.” The phone call was one-sided. There was no communication. We also know that it’s possible for two people to have a conversation – but neither listens to the other. And so misunderstanding arises and often from misunderstanding comes conflict. It can be one factor in a failed relationship. For me, it is typical of ‘debates’ on television or radio. I’m not worried if there are no TV debates for the coming elections. They may reveal skills in debating or memory but they rarely help us to truly understand the issues.
This is not taking sides or an attack on politicians. Not listening is a very human trait.
Many times we don’t understand because we don’t listen. What we don’t understand we often fear. Or worse, we fear the people we don’t understand.
Think for a moment of the people or things you fear. Is it because “now we are cut off” and don’t communicate?
It’s a very corny saying that we have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally. The alternative, this Lent, may be to the find the prayer* and pray it with meaning!
* Prayers of Life by Michel Quoist
Revd Peter Cheesman; Civil Protection Advisor to Gloucester Churches Together & Gloucester Diocese