Fully listening

Listening is a very vulnerable stance. … True listening has become increasingly difficult in churches and institutions, where people remain on their guard, afraid to expose their weaker side, eager to be recognized as successful and bright. In our contemporary competitive society, listening often is a way of ‘checking the other person out.’ It is a defensive stance in which we do not really allow anything new to happen to us.

— Henri Nouwen, “Spiritual Direction”

Lord, may our ears and hearts be open to those around us, because too often I know that to give someone my full attention is to show the utmost love and respect — and yet I still have my phone in my hand, or my mind somewhere else. I miss community and relationships, and often they’re already gifted, if only I would listen with my whole self.

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