The Lost Art of Listening

I am writing this while on vacation. To be more precise, I am writing this in a quiet room while on vacation. My wife and two boys are off playing mini-golf. I was going to be with them, but felt too tired. I felt the need to rest. To that end, I stayed by myself to enjoy the quiet, hoping to lay down, sleep, or possibly read.

Enter my good friend Irony. Now that I have the quiet atmosphere I long for, I want to fill the void. I find that I want to write, because I want to be saying something, rather than perhaps reading a book, meditating, or doing something to listen instead.

I find myself doing that in conversation with others sometimes, too. Instead of listening to my full potential to what someone else is saying, I find myself trying desperately to think of what the best response is. What if the best response is not some clever statement, pr a piece of wisdom from my own experience? What if the best response is to simply acknowledge that I really listened? Perhaps the best response is one that presents itself only when I truly open myself up to focusing on what the other person is saying. My own mental distraction gets in the way of that honest response sometimes.

Tonight I realized that the person I am most guilty of doing this to is God. Instead of reading scripture or praying (a spiritual discipline I neglect far too often), I find that I want to have something to say (write) instead.

Sometimes I wonder why God seems far away. Perhaps the answer is that he feels far away because I’m too busy doing the talking in this divine relationship.

With that parting thought in mind, I will save this document, read, pray, and listen.

Amen.

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