In my experience, listening and hearing are very different. It is hard to listen. It is even harder to hear. Listening involved a willingness to be present. It also requires patience, compassion, and a sense of empathy. Hearing is all this and more! To truly hear requires one to be open to new possibilities. It demands that one put bias, agendas, and opinions temporarily to the side. It all invites one to act, especially in affirming to the other that one has listened with the heart and soul. Listening and hearing are often in short supply. In this context, hearing is one of the most priceless gifts we can give each other.
In the past few days, I know without a doubt that I have been heard. Friends and family near and far have been fully present. I find myself filled with peace and assurance. I can feel their hope is now my hope. I know that whatever life brings in the days ahead, I will be stronger because of their gifts. I feel that I have been healed even before I sensed a need for healing. Their gifts are priceless treasures that I will treasure and hold close to my heart. They are also an invitation to be a greater part of the family – extending compassion, mercy, and a sense of belong to all that I meet.
Extraordinary things happen when people listen. Those involved know they are a part of something greater than themselves. Listening is an invitation to step out and beyond the self. Miracles are born when people hear. At times, they are manifest in ways that everyone can touch. Like the time “Peter put the widows all out of the room. He knelt and prayed. Then he spoke directly to the body: 'Tabitha, get up.'” (Acts 9.40) Others knew the result. Most of the time something quite different occurs. A quiet, often silent miracle occurs within the heart of the one heard. Hope is born again. Love is realized. Peace is embraced. Each is a miracle in its own right.
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