In one of the weekday Masses last week Jesus said in the Gospel, anyone who has ears to hear, let him listen. Unfortunately, at the time, I had no ears to hear as they were bunged up with earwax, and I couldn’t listen even if I wanted too. This is a problem I get from time to time, and I usually have to get them syringed about once every 18 months. Recently, however, there was a text message from my surgery in Bishopbriggs saying that they could no longer offer this service and that in future I would need to make other arrangements.
At first, I thought I would self-medicate and try pouring in some almond oil in the hope that my ears would clean themselves out, as ears are meant to have a capacity for self-cleansing anyway. I didn’t hold out much hope for this however, as I knew from previous experience that as soon as I started pouring oil into my ears, whatever little hearing I had would disappear altogether, and so it proved. After the first pouring I couldn’t hear a single thing. I told the people at Mass that this would be a good time to come to me for Confession.
I decided then to turn to Google in the hope of finding a clinic that would clean my ears for me, even though I knew I would have to pay for it. I found a clinic in the city centre whose website said that there was no need to be pouring in oil for days on end beforehand, as their wonderful suction system, not syringing, would do the trick. Wanting to get the job done as quickly as possible I gave them a call and arranged a visit for the following day. The clinic was very swish and swanky, and a bit futuristic, but that was fine by me if it did the job.
Bang on time, I was invited into the surgery where, after a brief conversation with the clinician, a camera was shone into my ears and there, projected onto a large screen, I could view my eardrums, showing great gatherings of wax and quite a lot of hair surrounding them. The clinician began the task but was shortly making tutting noises about how hard and how compact the wax was and that really it needed a few days of softening with oil for the job to be done properly, which wasn’t what the website said. The hair was causing a problem too, and she had to keep snipping away at that. It had been a long time since I’d had a problem with having too much hair. After repeated attempts at one ear, and then the other, she decided she couldn’t complete the job and that I would need to come back for a second session after a few days of oil softening. I told her I had to travel to Belfast a couple of days later and that I would really like to have the job done before then. I was then sold a rather expensive bottle of oil that she said was good for softening the wax and an appointment was made for the next day, but at another branch of the same clinic, with a different clinician, and I was instructed to be very liberal with the oil both that night and the following morning.
The next evening, I arrived at the other clinic, this one in Bearsden, but less swish and swanky. I was the last appointment of the day. I was greeted by a clinician from South Africa, whom I congratulated profusely on beating England to win the Rugby World Cup, after which she worked tirelessly, above and beyond the call of duty, to clean my ears completely, showing me the finished results of lovely clean and hairless eardrums, back on the screen, and then she gave me a hearing test. The hearing test consisted of going into a booth and putting headphones on, then listening to various sounds at different pitches, at which, if I could hear them, I was to push a button. When the test was finished, she delighted me by saying that my hearing was good, but then spoiled it by adding – for my age!
Either way, it was such a relief and a joy to be able to hear again, but I wonder what the spiritual equivalent of earwax is that prevents us from hearing the Word of God:
Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word about Christ. (Romans 10:17). Anyone who has ears to hear, let them listen (Mark 4:23).