Monday, December 31, 2007

Can I Listen for a Year?

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!

6 comments:

more cows than people said...

thanks for affirming my plan. i hope to honor it in the year to come.

and yours is fabulous. you can, gg, you can listen for a year.

allow us to support you in this endeavor in any way we can.

i have room for growth in this area too. i'll be chewing on this for awhile.

i wanted to post on your church post, but... it just wasn't timed quite right for me. you sparked great conversation with that, though, thanks.

blessings in 2008.

mompriest said...

GG - listening well is an art, but one we can hone. Or maybe it is a discipline, one we can practice. (Both actually). I love this resolution, seems to be a clear connection with your Spiritual direction work and seminary....and, it's one I could practice with more intentionality myself. Blessings for the New Year.

Jan said...

Listening is a gift. I hope I can follow in your steps and try to listen better, and not just to myself! I am pondering the post you mentioned and need to spend time on each one a day at a time. The main resolution I have right now is to choose HEALTH, which really could cover listening and lots of other areas, too.

Wayne Stratz said...

I wish you well, and if imperfection falls, may you simply and gently guide yourself back to listening

RevDrKate said...

This is a wonderful intention...and also affirm that with God's help yes, you can.

I also loved your other post on the church and found much food for thought there. This will be an interesting continuing conversation, I hope.

Blessings for the new year,

Kathryn J said...

I don't really do resolutions - maybe that is why I drift so much. I'm intrigued enough to add listening to my ongoing list of resolutions.