Some years ago I read an interesting piece in which the writer urged to renounce all grumbling. Being the contrarian, I thought: What would happen if instead of giving up grumbling, I listened to it?
Listened with respect.
Usually when a negative feeling confronted me, either I tried to drive it down or I just submitted to it. Neither of these approaches is respectful. I might not do what my negative feelings direct, but I could try with honesty to listen to what lay at the roots of this grumbling and discontent.
One particular scripture story became for me a wonderful metaphor of sincere and respectful depth listening. It’s the story of the blind beggar Bartimaeus. It’s a large gathering with the sensational Prophet walking among the people.
Bartimaeus sits by the roadside hopefully calling out for the Prophet to pay attention to him and heal him. Some of the people in the crowd try to hush him. They probably felt, as we so often do, that important people should concentrate on “higher things.”
The more they try to silence him, the louder he shouts. At last, the Prophet turns to him and asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” He knew to listen to the grumbling.
Within each of us is that which cries out, pleading to be heard. Often the manner of its crying out is expressed through grumbling, negativity, irritability, anxiety. We shout down the cry, try to put it out of the room, breathe it away, all to shake it off. It’s not the way of a person with true faith.
Learn to pay attention, to listen, and to question that which cries out in you. Ask yourself; what is this grumbling trying to tell me? What should I do about it?
It is both astonishing and revealing what will surface when you keep patiently asking and listening to your inner Bartimaeus.
– Flora Slosson Wuellner (adapted)