A small group from the local Unitarian Church is planning to do a training day for Lay Pastoral Care Associates. The main focus for this particular gathering will be on listening, attentive, focused, compassionate listening. In the weeks leading up to the training day, I have become increasingly aware of both the power of and the absence of deep listening in my daily interactions; of how discounted I can feel when I am speaking and the listener’s attention drifts to whoever or whatever else may pull their attention away; of how grateful I feel when I know I have been heard and understood.
I am reminded of a powerful excerpt from Nelle Morton’s book, THE JOURNEY IS HOME that I read many years ago at the beginning of my theological studies in seminary. She wrote this:
Morton reminds us that when we listen actively and deeply “we voluntarily join another human being at a particular point on their life journey for a brief space in time and that it “…is not so much a journey ahead, or a journey into space, but a journey into presence.”
Honoring the high value of the presence we bring to any human interaction is a spiritual practice.
We can actually create a space wherein a person can find their own voice, perhaps even “listen” another person into connecting with their own inner wisdom for their own life.
This is a powerful gift both given and received. Most of us have not had many experiences of being listened to and heard in such a way that our own wisdom becomes activated and we begin to “see” a direction or action we need to take - - begin to feel reassured in the midst of a challenging situation that we do, indeed, have the wisdom to move on through. At one time or another, we all need to be “listened to or heard into speech.”
It sounded to me as though there might be the promise of an encounter with Divinity in the process of full and deep listening to another human being. Hmmmmmm.