The Gift of Listening

Image by Juri Gianfrancesco

I am struggling to write an article at the end of this tumultuous year. I have thought of writing about what we’ve learned from the pandemic, using the new year as a fresh start to make life changes, vitality despite adversity etc… but nothing came together or seemed genuine. Instead I will leave you with this passage from Henri Nouwen.

I know that his words are true. I know that they can help us to be kinder and better – and that is what I wish for us all in 2022.

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.

Henri Nouwen