Jesus, Listening, Can Hear
June 1988

“Jesus, Listening, Can Hear,” Ensign, June 1988, 46–47

Jesus, Listening, Can Hear

I have never forgotten how, in one fleeting moment, the Spirit was powerfully manifest to me through two bright blue eyes.

The eyes belong to Heather, a nine-year-old girl with a keen mind, infectious giggle, and a determined spirit housed in a frame with great physical restrictions. Because of her handicaps, the simplest of life’s activities are major tasks for her.

Unable to verbalize, Heather sends messages with her eyes. She is quite efficient. A direct gaze means yes, and a blink means no. Through a series of questions, gazes, blinks, giggles, and facial expressions, Heather shares her vibrant spirit and brings joy to the lives of those who interact with her.

As her therapist and teacher for several years, I have many times sensed that for Heather, as for many other handicapped children, the veil seems very thin. If she could speak, what could she teach me about the things of the Spirit?

One Monday morning, Heather and I visited about the previous weekend. Heather indicated to me that she had attended Primary, so I began singing some Primary songs. A smile broke across her face whenever she recognized a song. I sang her my favorite, “I Wonder When He Comes Again.” Then I asked her if she had a favorite song. Immediately her eyes focused on mine and I was suddenly faced with the challenge of determining which song she loved above all others.

Through a series of questions I discovered that her favorite song was one she had heard in Primary. She wasn’t sure which songbook it was in, but knew it was about Jesus. I went through every possible song I could think of. To my dismay and Heather’s disappointment, none of them was the right one.

Heather refused to let the issue die. For some reason she needed the two of us to share her favorite song. Finally, I agreed to bring my Primary songbooks to school the following day and go through them with her.

On Tuesday morning, Heather let me know in no uncertain terms that she wanted to find the song—now! We went through the books, but to no avail. She liked all of the songs, but none of them was the song. In desperation, I told Heather that if her mother could figure out the song, we would sing it. If not, we would have to live with the fact that we couldn’t find it.

Heather came to school the next day more determined than ever to find her song. Tucked in her wheelchair was the new Church hymnbook. I positioned myself next to her and, page by page, we made our way through. I sang the first phrase of each song, and each time Heather’s eyes closed in a definite no. Halfway through the book, I began to sing: “There is sunshine in my soul today …”

As if someone had stuck her with a pin, Heather jumped and smiled. Her bright eyes looked directly at me. Together we laughed and reveled in the completion of our three-day search. “OK, now we can finally sing your favorite song,” I said. She smiled as I sang the first verse, and as I began the chorus she mustered all the effort she could and joined in with occasional sigh-like sounds. As I finished the chorus she looked at me steadily as if to say, “I liked that part.” I was so grateful I had found the song! I asked if she wanted to hear the rest of the verses and she responded with a firm yes. Again I began:

There is music in my soul today,

A carol to my King,

And Jesus listening can hear

The songs I cannot sing …

Heather’s reaction to that line was so strong that I stopped. I looked at her as the reality and significance of the moment pressed on my mind. “Heather, is that what you like about the song?” I asked. “Is that what you want me to know? That Jesus is listening, and he can hear the songs you cannot sing?” She lifted her head and looked me straight in the eyes. The testimony had been borne.

Feeling guided by the Spirit, I ventured to ask, “Heather, does Jesus talk to you in your mind and in your heart?” Her look was penetrating.

Knowing her close relationship with the Spirit, there was one more thing I wanted to know. With reverent anticipation I whispered, “Heather, what does he say?” My heart pounded as I viewed the clear look in her eyes as she awaited my questions so she could share her insight. I felt that the Lord gave me the right questions to ask as I took a deep breath and proceeded. “Does he say ‘Heather, I love you’?” Her eyes were radiant as she confirmed that statement. I paused, swallowed, and continued. “Does he say ‘Heather, you’re special’?” Again, yes. I paused again, with a lump in my throat, and then asked, “Does he say, ‘Heather, be patient; I have great things in store for you’?”

Heather’s head became erect; every fiber of her being seemed to be electrified as her eyes penetrated my soul. She knew she was loved. She knew she was special. She knew she only needed to be patient because great things were in store for her.

The moment seemed too sacred for further words. I leaned forward and pressed her cheek against my own. Without words, but through the bright blue windows to her soul, the truth had been made known.

Yes, Heather, Jesus, listening, can hear.

  • Jean Ernstrom, a speech and language pathologist, is a Primary teacher in the Kaysville Twelfth Ward, Kaysville Utah Crestwood Stake.