Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Key to Change begins with Listening

(This Old Lady reminds me of the one I met at Church)
     While waiting for a friend at a local Parish Church, I noticed an old beggar walking along the church's path walk, going about from one stranger to another. She walked around, crookedly bent and leaning forward as she carried her sack-full of garbage wares and street finds. But what strikes me as, should I say, "peculiar" about her was here beaming smile and cheerful greeting to every person she approached, which somehow overshadowed (or better yet, over-shined) her typical filthy garb. Well yes, I find it peculiar and curiously surprising because typically, our less-privileged brothers and sisters we encounter plead to us with that common  aura of misery, seeking our pity to look into their plight and destitution. And this old lady I just witnessed was quite a contradiction from how we stereotypically perceive in the poor.

    It came to that moment when I was the one she approached, and I noticed that aside from asking for my share of a few money's worth (which I gave more than she asked for), there was something more that she needed (which was implied by her actions): it was someone's time to listen to her. And I listened.

     I found out that she was living in the shanties with her older sister who happens to be bedridden. Without any job whatsoever, she still felt compelled to help her sister in the little way she can by asking for alms and buying basic necessities such as food. And with all the difficulties she is going through, I was brought to a startling realization when she confessed that in her everyday trips to the streets, she never forgets to stop by at the church to say "THANK YOU." Even with the little that she has, she still finds it a reason to be thankful to God because for her, these are her BLESSINGS... these are her TREASURES.

        And I got myself to think: "What if I shunned her away?"

     How many of us have turned our backs on others because they were poor, or dirty, or stinking, or shameful, or in a miserable state of physical, mental and emotional condition?

     How many of us have allowed our human ways of judging and stereotyping others, especially our less fortunate brethren, to err our treatment and approach towards them?

     How many of us have judged others unfairly that we closed our eyes, our ears and our hearts from listening and understanding other people's stories?

     How many of us have actually and sincerely listened to the stories of those who are in need of someone to confide to?

     I realized that in changing one's heart in being attuned to the plight of others and to be compelled in doing what is right, we have to let go of our barriers: PRIDE, JUDGEMENT, HATE, SCRUTINY, and SELFISHNESS. And pretty much like shedding off a wet and muddy coat, letting go of these barriers unloads ourselves of such burdens that we are left naked with the simplest of virtues: HUMILTY. And being humble can be a big turner, where in we are called to willingly surrender to selflessness. We begin (and eventually learn) to see ourselves in the lives of other people.

    And from there, we start to put aside our wants and desires so we can offer up our time and effort for those who need it. They are the people who are deprived of a voice or a sense of meaning in their existence. They are those who are, out of their desperation, in need of a reminder: THAT THEY MATTER... THAT THEY ARE A PART OF THIS WORLD... THAT THEY DESERVE TO BE LOVED.

     And all it takes for us to do and to start the chain reaction of change... all it takes for us to make an action... is to LISTEN. Listen with an openness that allows us to understand, to see beyond what our eyes can perceive, to ponder, and to take into heart the story told, until we are moved to MOVE... to take action that will spark a lasting change for the good, if not, for the BETTER.

     Listening is an INSTRUMENT... an instrument of LOVE that serves as a KEY that opens doors that have been locked by hurts and pains. And we, upon succumbing to this simplest act of Love, open these doors and unravel the many possibilities and blessing that were thought to be unreachable and unattainable. 


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