Friday, July 29, 2011

Hearing and Listening

We live surrounded by the daily cacophony, hearing way too much, from traffic to television. We hear what others say to us, but often it is part of the mixture of sound assaulting us so it gets filtered. But do we pay attention in its midst?

The first word of the Benedictine Rule is "Ausculta," (listen). This involves more than the ears, but the heart and mind as well. Attention and intention come into play here, centering and slowing down enough so that understanding may blossom, and transform.

Truly listening to another lets him or her know how much we value what he or she has to say. Being present to the other involves humility in that it's not our place to be thinking of what we're going to say in response. We simply need to let go and trust that the right words will be there when necessary. It's simply not about us.

How nice it would be if all practiced this more deeply, particularly our political leaders. All too often on Capital Hill it's about ideology and not service. (It's like that in much of the Church, too). When true listening takes a back seat, nothing gets done.

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