Faith Development For All
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This is your chance to listen carefully. Your whole life might depend on what you hear. – Joyce Sutphen
Listening helps us find our way. The listening of therapists allows us to navigate our way through life. We turn to prayer to hear God’s guidance. We listen to experts so we can get ahead. Like a flashlight that leads us through the darkness, listening helps us keep on course.
And yet our faith says not quite. There’s so much more to it than that. Listening doesn’t just guide us through the world, it says. It also creates our world.
Just think about why you listen to those close to you. Is it really just to gather information? To hear the other clearly? Or is it because you’ve discovered in those rare moments of deep listening that a space suddenly opens up? A space that feels sacred. A space that, once you’ve experienced it, you never want to leave.
This is why the flashlight way of understanding listening is so limited and limiting. Listening’s value isn’t just instrumental. It doesn’t just help us collect and expose information. It’s not just a tool.
It’s a place.
Those voices calling us home are our home. We don’t have conversations; we are our conversations. Listening literally determines the world we live in. And whom we become.
That old story about the cricket and coins comes to mind. Two people are walking down a busy city street. Everyone is rushing to and from their work, trying to get ahead. One of the friends turns to the other and says, “Do you hear that? It’s a cricket!” The other friend responds with doubt, but after focusing his attention finally hears it. “Wow,” he says, “How did you hear that cricket with all the noise around us?” His friend responds, “It’s all about how I was raised, about what I was taught to listen for.” He goes on, “Here, I’ll show you something.” The friend then reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handful of coins – nickels, quarters, dimes – and he drops them on the sidewalk. Everyone who was rushing by stops… to listen.
One wonders if this is why the poet says, “Listen carefully. Your whole life might depend on what you hear.”
Again friends, we must remember this: We don’t have conversations, we are our conversations. Who and what we listen to is who and what we become.
May this month, and our time together, help us take one more step toward listening our way into being.