“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” – Jesus
Sunday evening, attending a fellowship event for one of WFPC’s summer mission teams, I fell into a conversation about the writing process, the nuts and bolts of being a professional writer. “The most important element of writing comes before the writing,” I said. “I have to actually live, to actively engage the world, in order to have anything to write about.”
Writing is one way that I process life; but there has to be some life to process. “I do my very best writing,” I told my friend, “immediately after being in conversation with my small group, or my discipleship class, or having a long heart sharing dinner with Rebekah, or simply spending a Sunday morning with our faith community.”
Probably the most important part of the writing equation is listening. Not just listening to people, but listening to life as it happens all around me; listening and paying attention; reading between the lines; just having my eyes open enough to let the light in.
Some of my best listening – in fact a lot of it – I do with my eyes.
I remember an exchange with our daughter, Naomi, when she must have been three or four years old. I thought I could get away with multi-tasking while she was talking, so I was reading a newspaper, or cooking, or both, while she sat at the counter sharing what was on her mind. “Daddy,” she said eventually, raising her voice just a little, “you have to listen to me with your eyes.”
So this morning’s post contains a few images from the listening I’ve been doing with my eyes over the weekend. It just brushes the surface, of course, and one of these days I may learn to keep quiet long enough to actually know something.
But it represents a great idea. Maybe we could launch an informal national campaign of listening? Then – I pray – we’d be less hurried in our inclination to react, to judge, to condemn, to lash out… and consequently fail to understand.
“Listen to me with your eyes!”
Jesus said, “With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
“‘You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.’
“Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” – Matthew 13:14-17
This weekend I listened to the family of four “red-shouldered” hawks who recently moved in, I listened to the deer who usually hide during the day, and I listened (while chuckling) to the labradoodle who is quite pleased with her new haircut…
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.