The Listening Heart
A spiritual writer beautifully described a listening heart at prayer. “Here I am, Lord. I hear your knocking at my door, as each person or event comes across my life”. How may we grow into this listening person.
A listening heart, first of all, is a heart that is open; namely, open to the heart of God, open to the heart of another person, open to the heart of our world. As one person put it: “When you listen, check your worries at the door”.
Secondly, when we deeply listen, we are also touched by the other. We weep with those who weep, we rejoice with those who rejoice. We are listening not just to their words but also to their feelings.
Finally, a listener responds to the other. Listening is not passive but active. Sometime ago there was a middle age gentleman, who was single and had his own business. He was invited by friends on a pilgrimage. The first evening there was the rosary. During the service, a thought came to him which he never had before: “Be a Priest”. When he returned home, the thought remained with him. He sought the counsel of a priest. The priest encouraged the gentleman. In time he sold his business, his home and entered the seminary. Today he is a Passionist Priest. He had a listening heart. He was open to the word, he was touched by that word, and he responded fully to the word.
The art of listening can have many faces. For example it can be a way of ministry. How often a person might say to us: ‘Thank you for listening’.
Listening can also be a way of being minister to. We are blessed to have a confidant or friend who is there for us.
Finally, listening is a way of prayer. How often we might see an elderly couple sitting quietly with each other. A beautiful image of the soul with God.
Speaking of prayer, we end the way we began. “Here I am, Lord. I hear your knocking at my door, as each person or event comes across my life”.
Fr. Theodore Walsh, C.P.