I can’t help but love an organization whose stated mission is to “honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening.” StoryCorps (www.storycorps.com) is a not-for-profit that sets up listening booths all over the country (maybe the world now) and helps people to record stories and conversations about their lives. Some are joyous, others tragic, all are real people talking in their own voices about their experiences. I have no affiliation with this organization other than thinking what they do is fabulous.
(Click here and listen to 94 year-old Betty Jenkins talk about her mother’s gift of a blow up bra for a great example.)
StoryCorps provides a mechanism for people to be heard. To feel like what they do matters. To believe that their experiences and the wisdom they have garnered from them have meaning beyond themselves. What a gift it is when we give someone our full attention and actually hear what they are saying–the words, the nuance, the depth of emotion.
Unfortunately, I am a terrible listener.
Unless I conciously focus on it, my listening skills are fraught with a combination of impatience and self-centeredness that results in 1) interrupting with one pearl of wisdom or another, 2) contemplating my next pearl of wisdom to be shared when the other person is done talking or 3) becoming distracted in my own thoughts on some other matter and losing the other conversation altogether.
So much for honoring and celebrating with listening.
Me and my poor listening skills are leaving in about an hour for an individual retreat at a Benedictine Monastery where I’ll spend the rest of today, tonight and most of tomorrow in silence…trying to listen.
When it first came to me a day or two ago that I needed to spend some one on one time with God, I thought it was a splendid idea. I’m in a bit of a transition time and I would love to get a little guidance about what is next.
But, what if its not about that at all? What if I’m just supposed to listen. Simply listening as an act of honoring and celebrating, without a personal “what’s in it for me” agenda.
I think I’ll give it a shot. I’ll let you know what happens when I get back…