“Listening creates a holy silence. When you listen generously to people, they can hear truth in themselves, often for the first time. And in the silence of listening, you can know yourself in everyone. Eventually you may be able to hear, in everyone and beyond everyone, the Unseen singing softly to itself and you.”
-Rachel Naomi Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom from InwardOuward.org, Church of the Saviour Daily Quote, November 29, 2018
One of my partners at work gave me this book by Rachel Remen, another physician who writes about the spiritual life in the ordinary. I remember the book, but I also remember the kindness of the giver and offer thanks for him and the times, often very holy, that we had together. I have learned that books are meaningful to me not only for what is in them but for the person who gave the book to me.
We have talked previously a great deal about holy listening, especially from Margaret Guenther and her book Holy Listening, the Art of Spiritual Direction. The message I keep hearing this Advent is to make holy listening to those I do not agree with as a part of my Advent discipline. My husband and I for brief periods of time listen to a news program that we know will tell a different story than what we are normally hearing. How do we each who hear so differently share what we have learned and then search for the truth? I don’t know that answer, but at least hearing a different story and a different interpretation as to what is happening can help us understand why others believe what they do.
There is also another setting where I am trying to be a holy listener. I frequently find myself with people who speak up too often and sometimes have what I interpret as boring words to offer. In the past I would cut them off and try to escape from the conversation. During this season I have been trying just to listen and listen for the Christ within them. One observation is that I have difficulty seeing and hearing Christ in them when I have lost my connection to the Christ within meyself It is the Christ, the God, the holy, the Spirit within us that can make that holy contact. I think that is our job. If we stay connected to the God within, we will discern the answers that we may hear in holy listening and enter into relationship with those with whom we have difficulty.
I am holding on to this hope.