Sunday, May 16, 2010

30 Days of Hearing

Day 30: Encouragement

Today I will conclude 30-days of hearing. As you may have noticed, I’ve taken a slower pace; I’m simply not able to write each day because of my increased volume of work. Even though I haven’t written daily, I have been conducting this experiment in earnest—particularly regarding the practice of listening. I'm sure my heightened attention has a lot to do with the fact that I am currently studying to become a spiritual director. Since January, I have read half-a-dozen books on the topic for my program. Through learning, my desire to be present to others has definitely increased.

Just this week, I had a number of meaningful conversations. In each case, I found myself recalling the dialogue and cherishing the privelege ot bearing witness to another’s life and story. I think of Jesus' words after his disciples found him listening and talking with a Samaritan woman. He told them, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.” (John 4:24) Deep listening nourishes my soul.

Through listening, I also received a gift in return--the gift of encouragement. On Friday, someone sent me an email that expressed what my listening meant to him. As I read his words, I experience almost a physical sensation--like my heart was glowing.

By definition, encouragement means, “support of a kind that inspires confidence and will to continue or develop.” That’s exactly how I felt. I had a full heart and a desire to continue to develop as a listener. It’s not surprising that encouragement is a gift of the Spirit. Though I am convinced in the power of presence and active listening, I am also reminded of the equally powerful impact of encouraging words. I hope you are receiving and offering a generous dose of both!