Keep on Listening

‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.

(Isaiah 6:9 NIV)
Isaiah has a dramatic vision of God; his lips are cleansed ready for good communication; he responds and says he's willing. Then comes the bombshell. 'They will hear, but they won't understand.' Jesus repeats the warning to his disciples when he tells them the parable of the sower. That remains a challenge for all involved in Christian communication. But there are other settings where communication is difficult. 
Her dementia had increased to the advanced stage, with its impact on numerous parts of the nervous system. It had left her with deficient visual fields and unable to walk or stand; memories seemed to have disappeared and speech was non-existent. Most of the day she would be sleeping. We struggled to find ways of communicating.
So we were delighted when world-renowned percussionist, Dame Evelyn Glennie, herself profoundly deaf from childhood, felt she might be able to 'get through' to those unable to communicate because of advanced dementia. 'I try my way of listening, including watching the body language,' she explained. 'Listening is love.'
She arrived with her drums and xylophone, but for us she chose the mbira, the African finger-piano. 'Speech results in sound waves,' I thought, 'so perhaps the vibrations will communicate.' We watched expectantly. She tried again, and again. Sadly nothing happened. There was no response. 

So what to do now? Give up, stop trying? No! 
'Words don't work; music no longer has an effect; vibrations have failed. Just be there. Your presence makes a difference,' was the advice I received. ‘And keep watching her reactions, however small they may be.’
Isaiah was asked to go! 'Here am I, send me,' was his response. I need to do the same. I may not say much, but I can offer a hand to be held.  And I'll certainly watch body-language. That's part of listening.