Deeply listen to make sense out of life

By Gerry Lewis | Published Saturday, May 5, 2018

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Sometimes life doesn’t make sense.

Have you ever wondered where that phrase came from? No? Me either until this morning.

I did not wonder enough to do any actual research into the origin of the phrase. I just pondered and deduced my own idea why things don’t make sense or are labeled nonsense.

I think it is because circumstances violate the expectations of one of our five senses. A beautiful flower that stinks to high heaven violates our sense of smell and, therefore, doesn’t make sense. A freshly baked pie may have an inviting aroma, but if salt were substituted for the sugar, it would violate our sense of taste and not make sense.

I think you get the point.

As I embark this week on my month-long sabbatical, I’m intentionally re-engaging the five senses God gave me to make sense out of life. Since part of my sabbatical is going off the grid, I’m writing all these posts in advance.

Here’s your invitation to reflect with me on making sense out of life in a five-part series of posts.

This week’s focus: Don’t just hear; really listen.

My sabbatical this week will include two important opportunities to listen. The first is a 24-hour private retreat in a remote cabin. If you are anything like me, you are lucky to get a couple of days of rest out of a week off from work. I’m not talking about over-scheduling activities on your vacation. I’m talking about the two days necessary to actually gear down, and the two or three days when you are technically off work but you are already re-engaging your brain toward what you’ll do when you get back.

This retreat is an intentional pause button to help me transition into a month of reflection, rest, and renewal. It is the first step of the detox that I talked about in last week’s post. I’ll have opportunity to listen to the sounds of wildlife and leaves rustling in the breeze. I’ll have the opportunity to listen for the voice of God as I read and pray. I’ll be by myself, so I won’t spend much time talking.

At the end of the week, I’m going to visit my dad. There is a little country cemetery outside of Coleman where generations of our family are buried. My stepmother is buried there. Dad will be as well. So will Mrs. Sweetie and I.

The first Saturday of May is working day at the cemetery. In the years before the cemetery association hired a groundskeeper, families came on that Saturday to trim shrubs, get rid of weeds, and bring flowers to the graves of loved ones. Now, it’s mostly flowers. And stories.

I haven’t been available for that first Saturday in May in the past 20 years or so. But I’m taking dad this year. We will drive around the surrounding area while he tells me the stories of who lived where, and what they did and what contributed to my heritage. I’ve seen all the places, and I’ve heard all the stories, but this year I really want to listen. Not so much for the history, but for dad’s heart. He and I both know that we won’t have many more years together. What he says may not be as important as why he’s saying it.

Life Matters, my friends. How will you make sense out of life this week by really, deeply listening?

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur.

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