This week I woke up, grabbed me some breakfast, then walked my dawg downtown to the Blues & Jazz Festival. Sunshine! Live Music! Beer! Dawg! An almost perfect day.
Hardly anyone initiated full on conversation with me. Maybe it was because there was something else we were all distracted by BLUES “Mamma killed a chicken. Thought it was a duck. Put it on the table with it’s legs stickin up.” JAZZ “Scoobeedoobebewap Braht braht braht. Diddelybe dowh dowh dowh”.

Or maybe it was because I had my sunglasses on which allowed me to hide in the shade(s). However, 27 different people asked me what kind of dawg my boy Tucker was. Because he is a rather large (120 pounds) fluffy white dog and everywhere we go, people stop us to ask me the same questions about him – I was ready. I wrote the answers to those questions on the back of a card and ended up pulling out the card 27 different times! “My dawg Tucker is a 4-year old Great Pyrenees and yes – he’s friendly.”


When I had an optometrist help me go blind for the last week of Lent a few years ago, I was free from one of my greatest burdens. I notice everything. Always have. It’s probably the reason why I didn’t do so well in a classroom. (Today, the medical world would prefer that I give it a label.) Yet the white walking stick I carried when I was blind seemed to act as a safety beacon for some. Sure, most people didn’t just walk up to the big bald ugly blind guy and start talking, but the odd stranger did. And I’m pretty sure that those strangers wouldn’t have done so if I didn’t have that white stick. (Without the white stick I would have just been the big bald ugly CREEPY guy who wears sunglasses inside!) My advertised vulnerability combined with my inability to judge a book by it’s cover, made some people feel safe.
Walking around in a crowd of people with sunglasses on, helped me avoid accidentally making eye contact with too many people that I knew AND also threw up a social barrier with strangers. This time, my white stick was my dawg.
Eyes are my favorite part of any person. When someone allows me to look into their soul, their eyes tell me more than their words. Maybe because I know this is why I tend to hide when I begin to feel uncomfortable with others. When I trust someone enough to actually open up, I divert my eyes. When I’m apologizing, I look down. When I tear up in a movie, I thank God it’s dark and pray that the producers aren’t emotional masochists and have provided enough time for everyone to stop the leaking before the movie ends and the lights come on. (I’ve cried in them all folks – Legends Of The Fall, Forest Gump, The Notebook, Passion Of The Christ, Shawshank Redemption, Pursuit Of Happyness, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Rudy, Hook – ya I said Hook!) When I see a cop while I’m driving I subconsciously move my right hand across my face and scratch my left temple, thus hiding MY EYES! (Anyone else with me on these eye intimacy issues? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?)

Jesus said “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!”

When I was a kid, my dad brought home our first family pet. Scamp was part Collie and part Lab. He was a happy, friendly, eager to please, medium sized black dog. I can remember finding Scamp whenever I was upset, laying down beside him and just sobbing. (Apparently, crying has been a theme throughout my entire life!) Confessing to him. Confiding in him. I didn’t have too many close friends growing up. Partly because childhood friendships are born out of convenience/location. In other words, you became friends with the kids on your street or in your neighborhood. My neighbors were an office building, a gas station, a bank and a beer store. I also found out later in life that some of my friends’ parents didn’t want them coming over to play at my place because… well… my place was a Funeral Home. And that’s weird. So Scamp was my pal. The other reason he was my pal was because he didn’t argue with me. He didn’t try to fix my problems by explaining how I screwed up or how I could have done better. He just listened. I guess silence was exactly what I needed. All Scamp ever did was smile and act like he was happy to see me, every time. That’s it. That, plus his silence meant more to me than any person in my life. Even though he couldn’t TELL me, I knew he loved me.
I tend to feel the same way about quiet people. They’re the ones I notice longer. We all notice the loud mouths like myself first, but the quiet ones are the ones I’m drawn too longer. I think it’s because I could imagine that if I ever did actually open up to someone about stuff locked away in my soul, that they might be the one I could share my crap with. I don’t want to open up to a “fixer”. I want to open up to a listener. Listening is caring. Wanting to fix someone doesn’t necessarily come from caring about that person. Listening is a lost art. Which is one of the main reasons I’m training in the sacred art of silence. For all my faults – I want to be remembered as that guy who actually listened and cared.

Selfishly, I’ve also discovered that when I listen to someone, their story always changes me. Stories have always had the biggest impact on me. Whether it was a school teacher who used stories to teach instead of information – or a spiritual teacher who used parables to teach instead of static rules or cold, unpackaged boundaries. I still remember the moments in church when I would raise my head from the numb, zombie like state I was in (when I was a kid of course!) when the minister would say, “Let me tell you a story.”
I’m training in silence now so that hopefully, by the time I embark on my two months of silence on The Camino Trail, I’ll be more like Scamp – or new my best friend Tucker. (I know we’re all supposed to be more like God, but my dyslexia wonders if we shouldn’t actually be more like Dog? Here’s Tucker all dressed up and ready for the Blues & Jazz Fest! “One and one is two. Ba bahhh bah ba! Two and two is four. Ba bahhh bah ba! My name is Tucker. Ba bahhh bah ba! And I’m ready to walk out that door. Ba bahhh bah ba!”


“Listening is being able to be changed by the other person.”–Alan Alda

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
–Stephen R. Covey

Spiritual Benefit During My 10th Day Of Silence = 1/10 (That’s 9 points better than last week! 🙂

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