It's that time again ~ time for those resolutions that tend to go by the wayside, one by one. Especially those involving scales and chocolate. But I'm seeing some extraordinary resolution posts online, especially from More Cows, whose plan is to try to do something every day of 2008 to care for her body and something to care for her mind. and from Jan, who posted a set of Spiritually Literate New Year's Resolutions with accompanying links ~ I think I might spend some considerable time pondering these over the next day or two.
One of them is the one I had already decided to focus upon for 2008: Listening. I might be a better listener than I give myself credit for, but not by much. I've become better at prayer, otherwise known as listening for God, by giving significant and disciplined attention to that part of my life over the past couple of years but, in that regard, as the great ones remind us, we are all always beginners. There will forever be plenty of room for resolution there. And as far as listening to other people? Well, I have a great deal to say myself! So in that regard I am more of a pre-beginner, the girl in the shallow end who doesn't want to let go of the ledge.
My daughter identified me a few days ago as a total extrovert, based upon her impression that someone will tell me an entire life story in the context of an elevator or grocery store encounter. But I think that (exaggeration) has more to do with enthusiasm than with listening skills. I am genuinely interested by what most people have to say about their lives, but my conversations are always peppered by my own commentary, which bubbles out of my very real engagement but often cuts off the other person's full expression and most likely leaves the impression that I haven't appreciated what she has had to say. That's not true ~ often I will find myself thinking afterward, Why didn't I ask about this or that? or, Why did I interject my own opinion at that point; I missed hers entirely or I wonder what he meant, exactly ~ but I am seldom patient enough to acknowledge the words and experiences of others as I should.
Jan's link says of listening that "[it] is often associated with others. Listening involves attention, being present, and hospitality, and it is a component of devotion, nurturing, and wonder. " Many times I have heard people immersed in Ignatian spirituality talk in terms of practicing "attention, reverence and devotion" to that which we encounter.
I would like to be more intentional in my experience of appreciation for others and more forthright about my gratitude for their presence and contribution. I think the key for me is listening. And I think that if I can manage one resolution some times on some days in 2008, that will be some-thing!