Listening

To listen is to continually give up all expectation and to give our attention, completely and freshly, to what is before us, not really knowing what we will hear or what that will mean. In the practice of our days, to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear. Mark Nepo (quoted by Toru Sato in Two, One, None: Conversations on Meditations)

It could be said that failure to listen is the sign of our times. But it could be said of the 50s and 60s–1850s and 1860s in America, that is. And also the 1840s when there was a considerable anti-immigration movement in America–against the Irish.

And again, I have searched the most ancient of human writing and find that the failure to listen is a human trait.

I don’t think that Richard J. Foster and Dallas Willard ever talked of listening as a spiritual discipline. At least not a core one.

I argue that listening is indeed the precursor to spiritual disciplines. It must come before study, meditation, prayer, fasting, for that is what we are doing in those disciplines. And also in worship and service. How can one spiritually serve others and not listen as Nepo describes?

Want to begin to heal the divisions found today in many, many countries around the globe?

Try listening to others. Softly. Freshly. With a willingness to be changed by what we hear. Not necessarily to change our politics. Definitely to change our hearts.

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