The movie tells the modern-day story of Popes Benedict and Pope Francis. Pope Benedict, a traditionalist, resigned his papacy in February of 2013. The reason is not completely clear, as is often the case with such things. Although, in fairness, how would we know? No pope had resigned for almost 600 years before him. What we do know is that Pope Benedict stands firmly on the ‘old ways’ of the Catholic Church. No marriage of priests for him. No women in the priesthood. He was dedicated, prayerful, and very fixed on his beliefs.
The movie tells us of his successor, Pope Francis, just shortly prior to Pope Benedict resigning, coming to the Vatican to ask for permission to retire. Of Pope Benedict refusing to sign his papers. Of the two men, polarized in many of their thoughts, learning to listen to each other. In the week or so the two men spent together at the Vatican, each wrestling with their own spiritual calling, Pope Benedict confessed that he wished he had a ‘spiritual hearing aid’.
This felt like a humble comment. The Pope is the head of the Church. It is assumed that his faith is unwavering. It is assumed that he might have a direct line to God. I imagine many of his followers believe he has the answers. The right answers. And yet, his wish gave insight into a different perspective. It spoke not only to the idea that life would be easier if there were clear rules and if the rules were spoken directly into our ears, but also to the idea that there might not necessarily be a right answer, and that there are many possibilities.
I’ve been pondering the idea of hearing aids this week. Both the real kind, and the kind of which Pope Benedict spoke. I’ve been thinking about why many adults don’t want to even consider that they could benefit from hearing aids. I’m thinking about how much of life people miss out on because they can’t hear what is going on. I’m imagining how helpful it would be if each of us could purchase a ‘variety pack’ of hearing aids, tailored specifically for us, to guide us through life.
I’ve been trying on some hearing aids this week. I don’t need the real kind. But I could fill a drawer with hearing aids that would help me in my life. Some of mine are easy to wear. On Thursday, it was little Benjamin’s second birthday, and I asked to spend the day with him while his parents were at work. I always need to have my Benjamin hearing aids in when I am with him. I need to be completely tuned in to what he is doing. These days I also need to be completely tuned in to what he is trying to say. I noticed that when I arrived first thing in the morning, after not seeing him for about a week, my ear was not attuned to his little expressions. It took me a minute to get my ‘Benjamin hearing aid’ adjusted, so I could quickly make the translations from his words to mine. It didn’t take long before ‘lock lit lips’ made perfect sense. Chocolate Chips!
I’m trying on other pairs from my personal pack too. The Benjamin ones are easy and comfortable to wear. I’m highly motivated to be able to communicate with Ben, and to have a good relationship with him, so I put my hearing aids on without a second thought. I’ve noticed though, there are some pairs of my hearing aids, I’ve been avoiding. The hearing aids that would whisper to me, ‘You don’t need to be so firm in your ideas’ haven’t yet got a lot of use. But they are calling my name. I know I need them. I know they would make parts of my life easier.
I want to experiment with the hearing aids that make me more compassionate. And with the ones that say, ‘Slow down. You don’t have to get it all done in a day.’ Those that remind me to hear what is being said behind the words would also come in handy. I’d love to find my wisdom hearing aids. With those I could ask myself, ‘What will matter in 20 years?’ I’d love hearing aids to remind me to call a friend. And those that said, ‘Pay attention, this could be important.’
Each of us really does have a package of these hearing aids. We simply need to open the drawer, decide which ones will serve us best in the moment, insert them, and turn them up. Hearing specialists tell us that when hearing starts to fade, if left untreated, it increases the risk of cognitive issues, specifically memory. I’m imagining that if I don’t turn up my compassion, and my ‘slow down’, and my wisdom, I’ll forget how to use them.
I’m guessing Pope Benedict did have a spiritual hearing aid even when he was doubting it. He may have forgotten the batteries, but it likely was there for his use all along.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What hearing aid do I need?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to choose the perfect hearing aid.