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What Does It Mean To Be A Family of Deep Listening?
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There is a modern, listening-themed wisdom tale circulating that is problematic to me. It features two men walking down a busy city sidewalk; presumably, one man is white (though this is not stated directly) and the other man is usually described as being Native American (playing on a trope that Native Americans are inherently wise, and teach by sharing profound stories). The Native American man tells his friend he hears a cricket singing amidst all the bustle and noise, and he stops to admire it. The white man cannot hear the cricket and asks the Native American man how he can make out the sound. The Native American man replies that one can always hear what reflects one’s values. (Can you feel the lesson coming?) He then demonstrates by dropping a handful of coins on the ground. At the sound of the money hitting the pavement, a dozen strangers turn to look.
One important thing we’ll be doing together as families this month is learning how to listen to our worlds–including the stories we pass around–on many and deep levels. The story as it’s described above can lead to some useful learnings, some expected, some less so. For example, if you heard this story told in a gathering, might you get a kind of uncomfortable flutter inside when you learned that one of the men was Native American, though the story was not written by a Native American, or shared in a Native American context? Maybe the gut-punch ending, which pits nature against wages (can we not sometimes have both, coin enough to raise a family and some leftover to create good in the world?) leaves you a little unsettled, maybe even hollow-feeling?
Those kinds of messages–sometimes wordless, often as much about feeling as knowing–are the messages we receive when we are listening deeply. Moved by that kind of deep listening to familiar stories, some people have revised the tale so the focus is on the opportunity to re-orient one’s attention toward connection and the natural world rather than distraction and the empty pursuit of wealth. Deep listening can affect powerful changes in a person and a culture.
With deep listening’s power in mind, this month we will hone our skills at using intuition, listening to hunches, feelings, and our guts. We will explore ways that people use their faces, bodies, and tones to say more (and sometimes different) than their words. We’ll listen for assumptions about others that are vestiges of our cultural conditioning, no longer serving us or the greater good. And we will practice listening for the numinous, the profoundly spiritual presence that some people say is the divine.
Gather up your metaphorical listening equipment: stethoscopes, ear horns, noise-canceling headphones, spare megaphones to lend out to amplify others’ voices. As we solicit and craft stories this month, as we bathe in bowl ringing and record the clinks and shuffles of life at home, we will be listening–deeply–for the truths that rise from the sea of sound, calls toward that place yet to be built where love and justice prevail.
On October 26th at 8:00 pm, we’ll meet live on Zoom to talk about what we’ve learned and discovered. Can’t wait to see you then! Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88934756685