It was a friendly conversation between two friends over lunch. While the place we were going to was new to us, the food, conversation, and care were old friends. We have been on a shared journey for several years. We continue to wrestle with conundrums that run just ahead of the answers.
“I know you do not think I listen to your advice. However…” The story the followed reflected the depth and consideration he had given to the gift of an observation. It was one friend saying thank-you from to another.
It was an interesting note to something that has always been important in our relationship. We both want to hear what the other has to say. It stood out in contrast to a conversation later that day where he said to a colleague, “I do not understand what you are saying. It is ok for me because I do not care.”
The comments triggered a reflection. Do I care about the words of others? Am I listening with my heart and mind? How would I answer the accusation that said “I know there are some among you who are so full of themselves they never listen to anyone, let alone me [anyone wise]”? (1 Corinthians 4.18)
In my response over lunch, I started with the observation. “There are few things I am certain of in our conversation. One of my certainties is that you listen. You listen, reflect, and use what is helpful. Listening is always your starting point.”
Hearing is a gift we have for others. Giving it is an act of friendship and trust. Hearing demonstrates our respect. As I think of the important relationships in my life, from Divinity to those I love, I realize that I have not always given them the gift of hearing.
Yesterday’s closed mind does not need to be a barrier to what unfolds today. Listening is a gift that never goes out of style. Hearing with our hearts and minds is the beginning of a conversation that has the potential to become a life changing dialogue.