Monday, March 7, 2011

Forgetting Ourselves

By David H. Roper

Read: Philippians 2:1-4
Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak. —James 1:19
Bible in a year:
Deuteronomy 3-4; Mark 10:32-52

I was fishing a local trout stream last summer, when my attention was fixed on a fish that was feeding nearby. I looked up and there on the bank I spied an acquaintance—nationally known fly-fishing guide and outfitter Dave Tucker. Immediately I became aware of my own performance, bungled the next cast, and lost the fish. So it is when we turn our attention away from the activity at hand and think about ourselves.

W. H. Auden has an engaging little poem about those who forget themselves in an activity—a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon making an incision, a clerk completing a bill of lading. He says that all “wear the same rapt expression, forgetting themselves in a function.” That phrase “forgetting themselves in a function” brings Philippians 2:3-4 to mind: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out . . . for the interests of others.”

When I’m listening to a friend, I need to remind myself to focus on him, not to begin wondering how I look, what he thinks of me, what I should say next. Let’s put others first by listening in rapt attention, concentrating on the one in front of us, forgetting ourselves.

When we hold our tongues and listen,
We communicate our care;
For an open ear speaks volumes
To a heart that’s in despair. —Sper

Listening may be the most loving thing you do today.

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