An earful from
“You two are such good listeners.”
That’s what a friend told us recently after we spent the better part of an afternoon giving him a good listen.
He noted that we did not interrupt, and when we were distracted by the freshening of drinks or bathroom breaks, we asked him to continue his narrative thread where it had been cut.
Where, you ask, did we acquire such skills?
How did we know to do that?
Well, we were both reporters. We were paid to listen.
And, I for one, read a little red book three times a year that begins with this advice: “Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with ear of your heart.” (If that is familiar, it is because it is the opening sentence from the Prologue of The Rule of Saint Benedict.)
And, we’ve been happily married since August 13, 1977 when we listened to one another express one another’s love for the other with the ears of our hearts. Our marriage works because we work at listening to one another, lo these many years later.
Yes, modern language devotees, listening is an action verb.
There is nothing passive about the practice.
Listening is as much an act of love as a kiss or a caress.
And so, when our friend called us over for an afternoon of unburdening of his soul, we went willingly the ears our hearts wide open and our mouths tightly shut.
Our friend talked.
And we all learned and grew in love and friendship.
So, as Saint Benedict so famously said in his Rule: Listen carefully.
Listen and learn.
Listen and love.
And when it’s your time to talk—talk. But don’t interrupt, and do not be a blatteroon.
Take the cotton out of your ears and gently insert it in your mouth, and one day very soon, you’ll find yourself hearing your friends sharing intimate details of their lives and saying: “I’ve never told anyone this before. But I’m telling you now because you’re such a good listener.”
Good to listen and good to be a good listener.
Thanks for listening.