Breath Prayer: “I am” “listening”
What makes listening holy? How is `holy listening’ any different than other listening? years ago I taught a Supervised Ministry class at Candler School of Theology. As teacher, I chose the topic. I chose the one act never formally addressed: listening.
For a semester the twelve students were divided into “A’s” and “B’s” and paired one with another. First the “A’s” were all asked a question (“how did you feel the first time you walked into the room filled with folks with Alzheimer’s?”) and then given 10 minutes to answer. “B’s” were asked to listen. As tempted as they were to engage, to interrupt, to elaborate, they couldn’t. They were asked to only listen. After the 10 minutes passed, then the “B’s” were given 5 minutes to tell the “A’s” where they heard God in those past 10 minutes. And then we switched up, B’s talking and A’s listening.
It was impossible. It was irritating. The students hated it…for most of the semester. And then, somehow, something shifted. For the whole class. Where there had earlier been tapping of toes, wriggling in seats, watching of watches and audible sighs, there entered into the room we all shared a quiet. After weeks of practicing this listening for God and not talking-over another, there was a peace that came. Somewhere in those weeks together, we had been reminded of the gift of listening for God in another’s story.
Prayer: Still Speaking God, we are listening for you this day. May our spirits quiet enough us that we hear with our hearts. May our thoughts be still so that we may be open to what is coming afresh to us. May we be renewed in your living word this day, new every morning. We give you thanks, Amen.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.