“Incline your ear to me and save me.” – Psalm 71: 2b
I can’t hear you.
I’m fifty now, and for some unknown reason my hearing started failing twenty years ago instead of (as seems more usual) twenty years from now. Hearing aids help some, and so do closed captions, but the “loss” in hearing loss is still pretty poignant. Hearing aids don’t do much for whispered confidences passed along with a handshake after worship. Captions don’t spell out the words to the soundtrack of Hamilton during family sing-alongs in the car.
I read somewhere that of all the adult-onset physical declines, hearing loss might be the most isolating. I don’t know they measure such things, but I do know that it can be frustrating to accept an invitation to a movie, only to not be able to understand what is happening. It can be heartbreaking to have friends shouting the same message a time or two until finally giving up with an exasperated “never mind.”
It’s true that sometimes hearing loss is a blessing as much as a challenge. I’m not easily distracted in coffee shops because conversations that might be annoying to you are just a background hum to me. If I miss the sounds of bird song, I also get to avoid the screeching of brakes.
This little psalm snippet, along with so much else of scripture, reminds me that as much as I might want Them to be, God will never be made in my image. God hears whispers and shouts, God hears songs and screeches. God hears you, even when I (or your other hard-of-hearing friends) can’t.
Remembering that today might be enough to save us both.
Holy Friend, Incline your all-hearing ear to me, and to everyone. Amen.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.