Can You Hear?

      My hearing much better now, and thanks for asking.

      I started noticing my ears were plugged around Christmas, and it lingered as low-grade muffling through our Big Band adventure in Guatemala. It was frustrating to perform excellent music with phenomenal musicians yet unable to hear it clearly.

      After we got back home I had my annual doctor check-up to renew blood pressure medication and endure unpleasant invasive procedures; the doctor looked in my ear and said the problem was sinus buildup.

      For the next several weeks I treated my condition with nasal spray, antihistamines, prednisone, colloidal silver, and inversions. All that happened was, I kept getting worse.

      I didn’t have any pain, which was fortunate, just irritation. I could hear, but everything was muffled, as if I were wearing industrial ear protection. If you spoke softly around me, I’d never know. Even worse, I couldn’t tell how loud I was talking, so I tended to speak softly to compensate.

      The worst part about it all was I couldn’t hear myself when playing trombone in church orchestra or community jazz band except for the vibrations moving through my own head. I assumed I was playing in tune since none of my fellow musicians jerked their heads around, but I couldn’t tell if I was too loud. Not only that, practicing at home, an activity I’ve been diligently trying to reinstate in my life, was miserable. That may have been the most disappointing part of it all since I’m trying to make it a new habit.


Just Like Magic

      I finally decided to man-up and go to an Ear-Nose-Throat doctor. I did what moderns do, asked my Facebook friends for recommendations. Following the majority advice, I set an appointment for a week out, surprised I could get one so soon.

      Then my friend Stacy, who is personal friends with the doctor I chose, substantially on her advice, sent me a text exchange she’d had with the doctor in which he told me to come see him the next day.

      Since I felt dubious walking into his office and telling them I had a special invite, I printed the text exchange so they could read for themselves. I must not have been the first person with a printout; the office didn’t seem surprised at all. They welcomed me graciously and gave me a stack of new patient forms.

      The doctor himself came to retrieve me, took me to his examining room where he asked a few questions, peered into my ears, said “Your left ear is full of wax,” and used an industrial-grade vacuum to suck it out. Just like that, I could hear.

      How often to we go to the doctor hoping for a magic wand that heals us instantly? And, of course, it never happens. Except for this time; I got magic. Thirty minutes after I walked into the front door of the doctor’s office, I left a hearing man.

      I would love to write how I soaked in the joyful sounds of singing birds when I walked outside, but it was a windy February day and there were no birds. Instead, I drove straight home to practice my trombone, and it was a delight.

Pay Attention

      Jesus often said, “He who has ears to hear let him hear,” before giving an especially important teaching. As a young boy I wondered if there were earless people in the crowd and why did Jesus make fun of them instead of fixing their missing ears.

      And then a few years later, during the 1970s CB radio era, of which was a participant, we used to ask, “Have you got your ears on?” meaning, “Are you tuned in and listening?” That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “He who has ears let him hear.” I can imagine Jesus leaning forward with a twinkle in his eye, saying, “Those of you who are tuned in and paying attention, hear this.”

      There is no magic wand solution to having a deeper life except to do what Jesus said, open our ears and listen. We don’t have to go through life hearing muffled words from God. He speaks clearly enough, we just have to clean our ears.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32