Note from CM: On New Year’s Day I read this brief but profound post at Kimberly Mason’s blog, The (Almost) Daily Office. Kim lives in the Great Northwest on an old farm and blogs about her outdoor journeys, her journeys into prayer and service, and her journeys in quilting, icon painting and creativity. She is also a postulant with the Sisters of St. Gregory (Episcopal). I encourage you to visit her blog regularly for a breath of fresh air. Today, I hope you will think long about her wise words on the subject of listening and hospitality.
* * *
Listening as Radical Hospitality
by Kimberly Mason
Listening is the oldest and perhaps the most powerful tool of healing. It is often through the quality of our listening and not the wisdom of our words that we are able to effect the most profound changes in the people around us. When we listen, we offer with our attention an opportunity for wholeness. Our listening creates sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person. That which has been denied, unloved, devalued by themselves and others. That which is hidden.
~Rachel Naomi Remen
We Episcopalians can tend to be a little boastful about our practice of “radical hospitality” — and often rightly so! We love our coffee hours, we love to greet guests at our parish with a warm “We’re so glad you came here today!” and we love to work and serve and give. So much energy is put into our welcome, so much care and time in preparation is put into our worship services, so much enthusiasm is put into the building and the maintenance of our community relationships — so much … so much MUCHNESS. All of which takes so much energy and enthusiasm.
But isn’t it good to know that one of the ways we can show our “radical hospitality” to others is to just sit and quietly listen? To really listen. To sit with another and lend an ear, to give through the silence of a loving and understanding heart, to just BE there for one who is in pain.
Quiet listening is a radical gift — a gift that echos the gift of listening that God bestows upon us every time we sit down to present him with our petitions and prayers and to pile up our worries and pains and woes at the foot of his altar and ask for his blessing and reach for his helping hand.
Listening breaks down the barriers that often exist between the Me and the Thee, and creates a closer bond between the Me and The Holy One.
Listening creates a home for the lost and wandering. Listening brings comfort to the restless heart. Listening feeds both the listener and the one who needs to be heard as they sit down together at the table of Radical Hospitality.