Tuesday, December 21st
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:1-4 (NRSV)
Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
~ 1 Peter 3:8 (NRSV)
Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her empty his heart. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self. ~ Dean Jackson
At age 96, my mom is doing remarkably well, but she struggles with memory loss. This is difficult for her because her memory is good enough to realize that she has forgotten something. When she expresses her annoyance and frustration, I usually try to encourage her. I assure her that she is doing very well, and that we understand that this just happens as we age (I share that I have forgetful moments, too). But one day, as she was lamenting her recent forgetfulness, I replied, “That must be so frustrating!” Her eyes widened, and she sat up straighter in her chair as she replied, “It IS!” She looked so relieved, so grateful that this time I had heard her, that I didn’t discount her feelings but truly understood and accepted them.
Today, our Advent invitation is to listen well – to listen with empathy and understanding. May we remember to use our ears, perhaps more than our mouths, as we listen for the deeper meanings and the unspoken feelings. May we set aside our need to respond, react, or reply until we have fully received and understood the message. May we listen with understanding love.
Understand. Who may need you to truly and lovingly listen today?
Prayer: Listening God, you always hear our true intentions, our deeper meanings, our genuine desires. Open my ears and my heart to listen and to clarify so that I listen well. Keep me from making someone’s story mine, keep me from assuming or perceiving incorrectly, keep me from jumping to conclusions or remedies or reactions. Help me to listen well. Amen.