This story is inspired by Mark 7:31–37.
The first words I ever heard were, “Be opened.”
On the surface, those words seemed obvious. However, they unleashed an internal deluge of discovery.
I was grateful that Jesus drew me apart from the crowd’s prying eyes. As he led me by my elbow, my breath shortened in eager anticipation. I just knew I would be healed! But I had no idea how deeply that healing would reach.
My mind was opened, not just my ears. I understood deeper meanings in the angry tone of voice in one person and the gentle strains from another. Tones communicate so much. What kinds of tones would I choose when I spoke?
I recognized listening as a powerful gift. Now I had more information than just reading faces and gestures. I could hear a need to be heard. I knew I didn’t have to rush to speak.
Jesus could have used other words. He might have said, “Your sins are forgiven,” or he could have used no words at all. Jesus knew my heart and what I’d prayed for many years. I wanted to be opened, like a scroll unrolled with good news inside. I wanted to be open to new possibilities and new ways of being.
Jesus didn’t have to ask me what I wanted; he saw my desire in my eyes and my parted lips, dry with longing. I didn’t realize the extent of what I was asking. Like a nut whose soft, delicious center needs to be pulled out of a hard shell, I needed Jesus to open me.
I’m now able to “hear” miracles all around me. I hear a call to compassion. I hear a God-given invitation to listen to other people’s spoken and unspoken burdens. And I am invited to heal in my way.
I prayed for years for release from my impediments. I focused on my shortcomings, not my gifts of sight and touch. I saw people convulsing with laughter and communicated joy with my eyes. I touched the shoulder of someone heaving with tears. I realize now that I undervalued those gifts.
What did Jesus mean when he said, “Be opened”? More than hearing noises and chatter.
Jesus opened a space where I could be hurt and forgive. Jesus opened me to share the good news that God loves people like me, who are imperfect and in need of growth—which describes all of us.
I like to sit in silence and remember Jesus touching me, touching my ears. I want to offer a similar touch to others who need to experience the freedom I did. So many hide and hold back.
I also didn’t expect to miss silence. Before I could speak, God was so near. I now open up quiet spaces for myself and others. Sometimes we all need to hear: “Can we just sit here quietly for a few moments?” More noisy words are not needed.
During the silent times I cherish in my daily routine, I hear the often nonverbal voice of God.
If you were truly to hear Jesus, what would be opened to you today?
Image: Author unknown, (Markusmaler und Gehilfe), public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.