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Journey with Colin: A doorway to the Marist Project

Nazareth 2

Listening

Journey with Colin: Nazareth 2 - Listening

Like going for a walk with a friend

Possibly the most beautiful gift we can offer to someone is to listen to that person. This means saying to that person, not in words, but with one's eyes, one's face, one's smile, and with the whole of one's body: you are important to me, your are interesting, I am happy that are here, you will enrich me since you are what I am not … it is not surprising that the best way for a person to reveal to her/himself whom she/he is, is to be listened to by another!

To listen is, first of, to be quiet … have you noticed how many "dialogues" are full of expressions like "that is like me when I … ", or "that reminds me of what happened to me … "quite often what the other has to say becomes an opportunity to talk about oneself.

To listen is to begin by stopping one's own little interior cinema, one's mobile monologue, in order to allow the other to live within one. It is to allow the other to enter within us in the way he/she might enter into our house, and settle there for a while, relaxing into it.

Listening is really a matter of dropping what has our attention in order to give our time to the other. It is like going for a walk with a friend: walking at his/her pace; close, but not crowding in, allowing the other to guide one, deciding when to stop, when to set off again, for no particular reason, for the other.

Journey with Colin - Nazareth 2- ListeningListening means not seeking to respond to the other, knowing that the other has within him/ herself the answers to his/her own questions. It means to refuse to think in place of the other, offering him/her advice, even wanting to understand him/her.

Listening means welcoming the other, acknowledging the other as he/she sees him/herself, without taking his/her place in order to tell him/her how he/ she ought to be. It means being positively open to all of his/her ideas, all his/her favourite topics, all his/her solutions, without interpreting, judging, leaving to the other the time and the space to find his/her own particular way.

Listening is not wanting the other to be like this or that, it is to learn to discover those qualities that are specific to him/to her. To be attentive to someone who is suffering is not to offer a solution or an explanation of the suffering, but rather to allow the person to speak it and to find his/her own way to become free of it. Learning to listen to someone is the most useful exercise we can do to free us from our own distress…

To listen is to offer to the other something that we may never have found ourselves: attention, time, an affectionate presence. It is by learning to listen to others that we come to listen to ourselves, our body and our emotions, it is the way to learn to listen to the earth and to life, it is to become a poet, that is, to feel the heart and see the soul of each thing.

To the one who is able to listen is given the possibility of not living on the surface of things: that one is in communion with the inner vibration of every living being, and begins to discover the infinitude that is both the living wealth and the creativity of the other. It is then that we get a glimpse of how much an encounter is a source of being rather than of having.

Friends' Letter,
the French Quaker Bulletin,
quoted in Non-violence News 1995

 

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"Lord, my heart is not proud,
nor haughty my eyes.
I have not gone after
things too great
nor marvels beyond me.
Truly, I have set my soul
in silence and peace.
As a child has rest in its
mother's arms,
even so my soul.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
both now and forever."

Psalm 130 (131)

Exercises
for personal reflection
or group sharing

Each one brings to mind a moment or situation in his/ her life where he/she did not feel listened to, understood, recognised … try to recall what he/she felt at that moment.

1st Sharing: After a short time of silence in order to enter into oneself and allow the memory to emerge, each one is listened to in turn, with respect, without interruption nor commentary (this is already a first listening exercise!)

Then, each one will again try to respond, within him/ herself to the following question: in this experience of not being listened to, can I work out what was coming from me, and what was coming from the other, and/or what was related to the situation? This painful memory of an experience of not being listened to, can it become for me an opportunity to offer renewed attention to the word spoken by another … or by God?

2nd Sharing: In the same spirit of respect as previously, those who wish may share their reflections.

To conclude, choose a hymn containing the word "listen" in its title or its refrain, and sing it together.

"I recommend to you,
keep firmly among you
this spirit of Mary.

We ought to have
the Mary's spirit,
humble and hidden.

I told you that she did
more than the apostles
by her prayer;
let us then combine silence,
prayer and action."

- Founder speaks 190, 3