Poetry, Prose and Parable.

Communicate to Connect.

Communication is not a one way process, it is not even a two way process, communication is a circular process where each party listens, listens some more and then speaks; the desired result being an understanding of unity. Even if the parties disagree, each party at least understands where the other is coming from and why they might think and act as they do and how they feel about a topic or situation.

Jim George Quote: “Listening is an act of love. When you listen to people,  you are communicating non-verbally that they are important to yo...” (7  wallpapers) - Quotefancy
Image :Quotefancy. Quote: Jim George.

My mother used to say that we have two ears and one tongue and that is because listening is doubly important. Unfortunately, most of us are not very good listeners. This is one of the reasons why we have the need for counselors and psychologists; we literally pay people to listen to us. I am not downplaying the important role these professionals undertake, nor the strategies they employ to help people, however, many years ago I read an article which suggested much of the depression and anxiety people suffer could be alleviated if we would just slow down and really listen to the story of another person.

Dr Stephen Covey has identified five levels of listening which can be easily found online and they are excellent. I am going to write in my own words and from my own experiences my five levels of listening.

Level # 1. Not listening at all. This is the lowest level of listening. The hearer is just not hearing at all. There may be words in the room but they are just flying around and bouncing off the walls. There is no opportunity or desire for understanding or connection at this level.

Level # 2. Listening to interject. At this level the words are making some connection but rather than listening for understanding we are listening to respond. Rather than hearing the other person we are busy with our own script in our heads about what we are going to say next. This level of listening is often characterized by interrupting the speaker mid sentence or even mid word with what we want to say. Sometimes the interjector will change the topic altogether! So at this level we aren’t really listening at all. The communication is all about what we want to say – not listening to what the other party has to say.

Level # 3. Selective Listening. At this level we are only listening to hear what we want to hear, everything else is dismissed as unimportant. At level 3 we miss the context of the message. When dealing in words, whether written or spoken, the context is highly important and if we miss the context we most likely miss the whole point of the communication. It is due to selective listening that we have so much miscommunication because what is actually said, is not actually heard.

Level # 4. Listening with Attention. At this level we are paying attention. Our body language would suggest we are engaged, we have eye contact and are actively listening. Attentive listening is good, however often it is accompanied with active judgement. At some level we are making judgements as to the validity of the speaker’s position. Along with this we are also considering what we would do, what we would say, what experiences we have had etc. So while level 4 is good, much of our focus is still on ourselves.

Level #5. Listening for Understanding. Level 5 listening suspends judgement; it listens for understanding and the listener sees through the eyes of the speaker. Level 5 listening embraces feeling and through our listening we understand how the speaker feels about a topic or situation. Level 5 listening is quiet. It does not rush in with solutions nor does it start on a story about how this same thing has happened to me, me, me! Level 5 listening is empathic, it is healing, it is communing with another person.

Commune: to converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy, etc.; interchange thoughts or feelings.to be in intimate communication or rapport:to commune with nature. interchange of ideas or sentiments. verb (used without object), com·muned, com·mun·ing.http://www.dictionary.com/

I am not sure about you but I know for sure that my level of listening would benefit from moving up a level or two.

Poetry, Prose and Parable.

Communicate to Connect.

Communication involves much more than words; it involves the entire body. The stance of the body, body language, gestures, tone, pitch, volume, eye contact and content are all elements of communication. Words are merely the tools one employs to do the work, however they are very powerful tools. I liken them to a power tool such as a power saw or drill. These tools need to be handled with care and are not to be flung around carelessly because we know they are dangerous and can cause much harm if not used with caution. Words too, flung around carelessly, can cause irreparable damage.

Imagine how irritating a power tool would be if it continued on and on long after its job had been done. It’s the same with words; unnecessary repetition, sometimes called nagging, is unproductive.

Deep Love Quotes and Sayings | The Dark Secrets
Image : The Dark Secrets.

Five levels of communication have been identified.

Level #1: The Cliche Level. At this level we say something like, “How are you?” This level of communication does not wait for a response, nor does it expect one. If there is a response it’s usually something like, ” Yeah, good.” Even if you are feeling anything but good. Both parties realise that at this level there is no real invitation to communicate.

Level #2: We report facts. At this level we report facts to one another. We talk about the weather, sport, the news, the government, other people, although not always with the facts; this is known as gossip! As long as we don’t get close to exposing ourselves, or how we might feel about anything we can talk for quite a while at this level.

Level #3: We report the facts and mention how we feel about them. At this level we are starting to get warm! We can help facilitate the move from level 2 to level 3 by asking the speaker, “How do you feel about……..?” This question indicates that we are listening and have an interest in the person. Often people are led into understanding themselves better or finding a solution to a problem when they are encouraged to articulate their feelings.

Level #4: We begin to reveal ourselves. We talk about ideas rather than other people. We discuss our likes and dislikes, our plans, our goals and dreams.

Level #5: We are transparent to the other person; our mask is off! We reveal our true selves, we admit our deepest fears and confess our faults. We ask to be accepted and loved for nothing more and nothing less than who we truly are. We connect heart and soul.

It is a sad fact that many people, even those in close relationships, never get past the third level of communication. Communication demands much than words. It requires time, the mouth, eyes, body, mind, soul and heart. But mostly it requires the courage to say, “This is who I am and when I speak with you I will be honest enough to reveal some of my precious self to you.”

This is communication to connect.

Communicate to Connect.

Listen more than you talk Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves  speak
Image:brainquotes. Quote: Richard Branson

We are going to discuss communication. Clear communication; communication for connection and understanding, it is vital in almost every area of life but, my goodness, how often do we misunderstand, misconnect and misconstrue words!

There are five levels of communication, both for the words we speak and the level at which we listen, so we will have a bit of a look at these over the next few posts. It is pretty scary stuff really because most of us do not get past the first couple of levels!

For today though we will begin with poetry. This poem was written for a Toastmasters Speech back in 1998.

Talk and Listen : poetry by Estelle D. © 1998

Talk and Listen were well acquainted,
Together they were often mated,
Talk always made a lot of noise,
Listen showed much more poise,
Was quieter and deeper,
Of her tongue a good keeper.

Talk was like the babbling brook,
Never knowing silence,
Listen knew the babbling brook was silenced by the pool,
And that the babblings of man,
Often proved him to be ,
Only a fool.

Talk was fond of saying much,
This and That and Such and Such,
An opinion on everything,
Talk did hold,
Believing it duty,
That everyone be told.

Listen was quiet when another spoke,
Affirmed their worth,
Never took them as a joke,
Listen never casually handed out advice,
Found it unnecessary to her own opinion,
Others to entice.

From Talk people tried to hide,
Found Talk a vexation, 
And hard to abide,
Listen, however, was quietly sought,
Listen it was found,
Wisdom brought.

In the fullness of time, 
Listen came of age,
And was given a place,
Upon Life's stage,
Listen was considered a wise old sage,
For she knew Talk one should carefully gauge.

And it came to Pass.

It came to pass; not to stay was one of my mother’s sayings. What she meant was that life is always in a state of constant flux and nothing stays the same forever. Of-course, forever is a very long time, but still you get the picture, the bad times will not last forever, there will be a change and conversely, the good times have no responsibility to continually bless us with an easy and comfortable life. We all know that for growth to occur there needs to be change, otherwise we would all stay as non-germinated seeds, with a potential for growth but actually not fulfilling any purpose or producing any fruit.

Life also has a habit of pruning us back, to get us into shape or to allow for new growth. It is like my lime tree, which a couple of months ago I cut back hard; it was just a lot of bare sticks but now Spring is here and it is full of new shoots, new life and the promise of a great crop of fruit next season because already it has little white flower buds popping up. Nature has so much to teach us about life and in nature we find the fulfillment of so many Biblical truths.

Image: my Lime tree

I have been thinking a lot about seasons; they complete the circle of life in nature and also in our own circle of our life; from birth to death. In nature each season has its purpose as does each season of our lives. This wisdom was penned by Solomon, said to be the wisest man who ever lived, about 1000 BC and recorded for us in Ecclesiastes  Chap 3: V1-8.

2-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 - Daniel M DeAbreu
Image: Pictorem.com

The story of King Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba, you can find in the Old Testament of the Bible; it is a rip roarer! Solomon is credited with writing Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. Along with Psalms (written predominately by David) these books make up the Books of Poetry so as well as being full of wisdom, encouragement and practical advice for living, they are beautifully written. Some believe Solomon wrote the Song of Solomon in his youth, the books of Proverbs in his middle age, and the book of Ecclesiastes when he was old.https://ibtministries.org/

Turn! Turn! Turn!
Album by The Byrds on YouTube.

Wisdom is Wisdom and Truth is Truth regardless of where you find it. In December 1965 The Byrds released their Turn!Turn!Turn! album with the title song which basically word for word repeats Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. You can listen to it on YouTube. It is beautiful.

Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)
The Byrds
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven.https://www.bing.com/

Amen.

Spring Clean.

Why Toowoomba is most beautiful inland city in Australia | Chronicle
Image: Toowoomba Chronicle.

In the southern hemisphere, Spring is here. And I am so thankful for its arrival. We live in a location that has beautiful tree lined streets and parks and gardens bursting with colour. At this time of year our city hosts The Carnival of Flowers; it is a wonderful celebration to Spring. Covid 19 has shrunk our worlds and community events are restricted; so there can be no parade through the streets, nor can the Food and Wine Festival which partners the Carnival of Flowers and showcases all our wonderful local produce go ahead. Even so our public parks and spaces, as well as many private gardens, are looking as beautiful as ever and the city has come up with creative ways to showcase its beauty, to encourage locals and welcome visitors to celebrate, Covid style, our wealth of local beauty, produce and hospitality.

East Toowoomba - Queens Park and Botanic Gardens
Image : Toowoomba Regional Council.

Still it is a good time for Spring cleaning so here is a little spring cleaning story.

The cupboard under the stairs is an Aladdin’s Cave. Not actually brimming with gold and precious jewels but overflowing all the same. When you think that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, well perhaps there is something precious in there. In fact, I know there is. Today it was all pulled out; the paintings that don’t see the light of day because there is already too much on our walls. The old violin, hugging memories of quick and nimble fingers dancing over its tired and broken strings, sleeps in its coffin case. The eskys, empty now but often filled with party cheer for happy social and family events have stories a plenty to tell. The crates filled with the belongings and memories of the now adult children wait patiently; one day they may be claimed. The cleaning gadgets which still enjoy frequent use and right at the back, hiding really, are the walking sticks and frames, quietly resting, waiting to be ushered into use as old age claims its victory over firm step and stride. You see, I told you there was treasure in there.

Hasty clean ups see benches swept bright, spanking clean and everything dumped into a box and shoved in the cupboard under the steps. So when it comes time to clean out the cupboard everything comes out. There is a bit of a ratio. About a quarter goes back in, all the treasures mentioned above; about a quarter is thrown out, about a quarter given to charity and the rest goes up into the shed. This just extends the inevitable moment of it being let go, but you see, the shed is way larger than the cupboard under the stairs.

One day soon I need to clean out the shed.

Poetry, Prose and Parable.

Another poem today. I think it is pertinent to our current times but applicable to life in general at any time.

Woodrow Wilson Quote: “I firmly believe in Divine Providence. Without  belief in Providence I think I should go crazy. Without God the world  wou...” (7 wallpapers) - Quotefancy
Image :Quotefancy.
Providence  a poem by Estelle D.© 2020.

Don't try to make any sense of life,
For life will make no sense,
It is not for man to understand,
The where, the why-fore or the whence.

Why so many live in need,
While their leaders are consumed by greed,
Why the good die young,
And real heroes remain unsung.

Why the race goes not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Why men seldom use their gift,
And delight in doing wrong.

Why the wicked seem to prosper,
Why good deeds we do not foster,
Why the wise are considered weak,
And in their place the foolish speak.

Why we suffer tragedy and pain,
And find it hard to see the gain,
That man cannot master his own ways,
And does not know the number of his days.

For the clay does not the potter tell,
How it will be shaped,
Nor the tree, the wind,
Which way it should blow.

When by life's mysteries, we are draped,
When by life's circumstances, 
We are shaped,
Our task is but to grow.

And we will make no sense of life, 
And life will make no sense, 
Lest we some faith show,
In Divine Providence.

Post Script: I feel I need to add another couple of thoughts to this post. Firstly, God is God and He hates evil, regardless of where it is found; in the Church, in government, in business and in homes; God does not bless evil. Conversely, He loves a heart which has turned, is turning towards Him and He is able to bless those people, regardless of their circumstances. There is a lot about our sojourn here that we do not know or understand but we can know these two things:

(1) As far as it depends on us we are to live in peace with all men (Rom 12:18)

(2) We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do goods works (Eph 2:10)

Poetry, Prose and Parable.

Negativity is a thief, it steals happiness - Quote
Image: allauthor.com

Today we have another short poem about life. Sometimes life is difficult and impossible to understand. Sometimes it feels as though we lose a lot; it is stolen from us and we cannot see why this has to be so. The Truth of life generally reveals itself. We need to be authentic people, seekers of truth, brave enough to face Truth and to be Kind. Kind to ourselves and kind even to those who hurt us. I hope you will like this poem.

The Thief. Poetry by Estelle D. © 2020.

Open your eyes, lift your disguise,
Find new sight,
See from another perspective,
Under a different light.
Ponder on great mysteries,
Heartbreak and Pain,
Wonder, Wonder Why?
Why you don't hear the words spoken
that might warn the Thief is near
and you're to be heartbroken.
Rest in the dullness of pain,
Have tears cleanse the soul like rain,
Wait on Time's precious healing.
Harken Truth's revealing.
The Thief comes only to steal.

Poetry, Prose and Parable.

21+ Remembering Dad Quotes | Love Lives On
Image: Love Lives On

Father’s Day

I have been thinking about my Father this past week. On Friday August 31st 2001 he passed from this life and two days later, the first Sunday in September, it was our first Father’s Day without him. The following day at 12.00 noon we celebrated his life; if you knew my father you would understand that a 12 noon funeral service was exactly the right time; he was a straight down the line sort of man.

My father was not a perfect man but he was a good man, a remarkable man really and the life principles he taught live on in me, and I hope, to a degree, have been passed onto my own children. Baptised at 18, he spent the following 68 years committed to his Christian Faith. For 60 of those years he was a lay preacher and delivered his last sermon the Sunday before he passed. I was not there but I am told there was not a dry eye as he spoke to the congregation he so loved and said his farewells.

Interested in civic and community service, my father was an elected Local Government Representative for over 20 years, a long time member of the Base Hospital Board, chairman of the city’s Road Safety Council and the elected representative for the local Grower’s Association, which each quarter took him to meetings in the state capital where along with growers from other regions he lobbied for fair market prices and represented the interests of primary producers of fruits and vegetables.

He was quite an enigma; a farmer who drove a Rolls Royce! He was invited to solemnize many marriages and preside over funeral services. He baptized scores of people and could be called in the middle of the night to the hospital to sit with those who were sick or grieving. Because he was good with people he was often invited to Chair meetings; the Scouting Executive, the local School of Arts committee, the organizing committee for the primary school reunion are a few I recall.

To pay the bills, he was a farmer and a fairly progressive and forward thinking one at that. His Church and community service was a labour of love for which, apart from the occasional reimbursement for travel costs, was given freely but rewarded generously. My father taught me there is no love without sacrifice, a lesson which was completely backed up by my dear mother who also made many sacrifices for her family.

The poem I include here was written for my father when it became clear that this time he was going to lose the battle against cancer.

Going Home. Poetry by Estelle D.© 2001.

Death the thief came stalking, creeping up with stealth,
No respecter of persons, power, privilege or wealth,
Shrouding those remaining in grief.
Though life it be resplendent, the days be very brief,
Of all men we are most wretched if to life our last bequeath,
Finds us lying in a coffin, covered with a wreath.
Be thou not self dependent, for none will escape the calling,
Death, it knows no defendant, but will knock on every door,
Young or old, rich or poor.
At the end of life, will I ask; Could I have done more?
More for whom? Or what? 
More for man, to prepare his soul, to help realize his heavenly goal.
Though Death should be the conqueror,
Let him not the victory win.
Through Christ we are victorious, over death and over sin.
The soul will take its flight on wing,
Joyful praises sweetly sing,
For Death has opened up the portal to life of the immortal,
Grave, where is thy victory? Death, where is thy sting?
This Saint is going Home,
To live with the King.

PS. The word Saint is used here in the Biblical sense; not in the sense of a canonized saint by some earthly church organisation but in the sense of Paul’s Greeting to the Ephesians Chap 1: V 1& 2 .

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Poetry, Prose and Parable.

MANY CHRISTIANS THINK THAT IT IS ONLY JESUS WHO SHOULD CARRY THE CROSS,  SUFFER and DIE," Alistair Begg. "The… | Mother teresa quotes, Mother  teresa, Mother theresa
Image: Pintrest.

So today it is just a short poem. Following my last post on Sacrifice and Self I have been thinking about the cost of life, sacrifice and the gifts we are given. We tend to forget that everything in this world has a cost; if it is a blessing to our lives and we have not paid for it ourselves, then someone else has paid the price for us. There is no greater example of this than the cost paid by Jesus for us to be reconciled with Father God.

The Cost poetry by Estelle D.

For something to be found, first it must be lost,
And if our prize is of great value, there must also be a cost.
If we think we have found a treasure, and have not paid the price,
We can know that someone else has paid for us to have this prize.

For we have all been chosen to carry our cross, 
To have our hearts purged of its dross, 
To search for Truth, to suffer loss, 
To find for ourselves that which was lost,
And feel privileged to pay the cost.

Poetry by Estelle D.© 2020.

Poetry, Prose and Parable.

Paul David Tripp Quote: “Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of  another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being  love...” (7 wallpapers) - Quotefancy
Image :Quotefancy

Living in the Land of Paradox.

For today we have a parable. I have been thinking a lot lately about sacrifice. My father used to say there is no love without sacrifice and it is one of my beliefs that to experience happiness we need to be prepared to make sacrifices in many areas of life. To perpetually feed our ego might seem like a good idea but like a lot of things in life, what seems like a good idea turns out to be rather disappointing. Please read on…

ONCE UPON AN AGE in the Land of Paradox, bursting into light came two spiritual beings. They sang and danced for joy, for they both knew they were wondrously made. They were full of grace, beauty, charm and wonder. They were intelligent courageous and strong. They shone like stars for indeed they were the children of Father Sun and Mother Moon. They were given the names of Self and Sacrifice. Both understood they were of exceeding great worth and they were blessed beyond measure. With such knowledge they were given the freedom to roam the universe until the end of time.

Convinced of her own worth and desiring to be a good steward, Self decided to increase and add to her Self. She knew she had talents that needed to be carefully guarded lest someone should grab them from her. Self was a bit suspicious and even jealous of the talents she saw in others. But she knew the tangible signs of success that would add value to her Self; clothes, jewels, expensive cars, a big house, exciting holidays, looking good and of-course always being seen with the right people. Self was diligent in her efforts and her achievements were great but ALAS, that wonderful light that had shone from within was dimmed. It faded and flickered into darkness. Self became an empty shell; even her possessions lost their glitter.

Sacrifice knew of her own true worth also and she acknowledged that precisely because of this intrinsic value she received riches from the Keeper of all Abundance. These gifts she thankfully received and joyfully shared with others. Sacrifice valued her talents and knew they were unique. She saw others blessed with wonderful gifts also but she did not envy or criticise them because she knew the Keeper of all Abundance had enough for everyone.

A funny thing happened to Sacrifice. The more she gave, the more she shared, the more she received. Life unfolded as a wonderful tapestry. Sacrifice met interesting people, she was given opportunities to grow. She did not seek riches, fame, position or even self comfort but she noticed all her needs were provided in abundance. Sacrifice radiated a glow of warmth and light, others felt blessed to know her and Sacrifice felt blessed to be able to give up self. Sacrifice knew that her contribution was of great value; through receiving and giving, giving and receiving she became whole. Sacrifice flowed with the energy that sustains all life. This is the energy we call LOVE.

So which will it be for you and me who live in the Land of Paradox; where the first shall be last and the last shall be first?

Parable by Estelle D.© 2020

Just as a postscript. Sacrifice does not mean that you let yourself be used as a complete doormat neither does it mean that you need to suffer continued abuse from people who profess to love you. If this is your situation please seek support and help. You are completely precious and worthy of respect and love.