The Deeper Deafness
cuts you off from things," said Tom, "But deafness cuts you
was about fifteen," he said "when I quite suddenly went totally
deaf. I had feared blindness as a child but did not think that deafness
would be a very serious handicap. Now I came to realize that the most
important thing in life is being related, and this happens most of all
through the faculty of hearing. When deaf, I was isolated from so much
of nature. I could no longer hear the singing of birds, or the waves
beating the shore. I could not hear the voices of friends, words of
comfort, hope and advice. At first some people tried to communicate
with me but soon they grew tired. I could see my friends getting exasperated
when I missed their meanings and they tired of writing notes to me.
I became embarrassed by their embarrassment. I became terribly isolated
and lonely within myself.
I began to forget how to talk. Not being able to hear myself I had no
control of how loudly I was speaking and I was being constantly signaled
to raise or lower my voice. Insensitive people would laugh at my stammerings,
so I eventually gave up trying and began to even lose the ability to
talk. This meant that I could not explain myself. No matter how strong
my feelings were, no matter how I was afraid and anxious, I just had
to keep it bottled up inside myself. More and more I was left to myself.
I did not contribute anything to the community and gradually I felt
that I was useless and in the way."
was a handicapped person and when you are different people are afraid
of you. People are afraid, especially to touch you. How I longed for
a shove or hug but people saw me as too delicate. Then, I was led to
believe that my affliction was a punishment from God. I spent hours
wondering what I might have done that I should be cursed by God. Perhaps
this was the deepest isolation - being isolated even from God.
about two years ago in the same week, a neighbor offered to do pranic
healing on me, a group of charismatics came and prayed over me, and
a young surgeon offered to do a simple surgical procedure on my ears.
He said he had read about it in a journal, he could not guarantee any
results but he was sure that it would not do me any further harm. I
do not know which was effective but a week later my hearing began to
return. I felt that the finger of God's love had touched me and a gush
of joy overtook me for days.
first I talked and talked - I needed to release what was bottled up
inside me. I would try to talk to everyone I met. Then I realized that
I was over-talking. I was not listening and I was hurting people by
inflicting myself on them. I started trying to listen; to do this I
had to stop talking and open not only my ears but also my heart. Then
I discovered that most hearing people are deaf. I learned too that most
people had speech impediments - we can never communicate exactly what
we want to say. The greatest tragedy is not to be deaf and dumb but
it is to have these faculties and never REALLY use them to listen below
the surface of things." That was Tom's touching story.
today's Gospel we see Jesus cure the deaf and dumb man. He warns the
man not to tell others because Jesus was interested in promoting a deeper
cure and a deeper kind of hearing. The man did not get Jesus' point,
as most people today do not get his point. They look for sensational
phenomena, like the curing of the physically deaf, and fail to appreciate
or recognize relational and spiritual deafness.
Meditation, on the other hand, is a form of listening in which we make ourselves temporarily deaf to the noises of this world so that we can be more sensitive to the deeper sounds by which the one who made the universe and who dwells in the depths of our hearts speaks to our inmost souls.
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