Wednesday, March 07, 2007


One of the advantages of blogging is being able to link to the items you want to share, but since I also print and bind mine, I've just got to provide the heart of this one. It's from Pomegranate and Paper.

"Yesterday in church, the priest asked what we had chosen as our Lentan penance. I squirmed a little in the pew because, as I wrote last week, I don't do the "what I gave up for Lent thing". And then he said that he had a suggestion for anyone who hadn't chosen a "penance" yet. He suggested that we chose what he considered the hardest penance of all: listening. Specifically, listening to someone that we don't like to listen to, someone with whom we are not sympatico.

He described listening as a physical and spiritual act. He suggested we listen without words, that is, that we truly listen without forming a reply, without thinking of what to say next, and without chiming in with what was bothering us. He spoke of listening as the act of opening up fully to another and receiving their words without judgment, without reaction, and without an eye on the clock. My mind immediately raced to all the times I've been impatient with listening: to my kids as I'm just home from work, to my mother in law on the phone with her repetitive list of complaints, to my own mother when she wants to tell me about the intrigues around the mah jong table, and to my husband when he just needs to tell me how he feels and have me accept what he says.

I'm working on listening this week. To really hearing what others are telling me. Sometimes that means listening more to the silences than to the words. I find that listening quiets the words in my own head. It takes me out of my self, beyond my needs, and my mind racing from thought to thought."

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