“Listen” first appeared in Old English as “hlysnan” or “lysna,” drawn from the Indo-European root “klu,” which denoted the general idea of “hearing.” It’s also the root of our English “loud.” [www.word-detective.com/2013/03/silent-listen/]
It’s root is the source also of Sanskrit srnoti “hears,” srosati “hears, obeys.” [https://www.etymonline.com/word/listen]
“Silent” and “listen” are anagrams. They have all the same letters in a different order!
The first duty of love is to listen.
Forget everything you’ve ever done.
Make no comparisons. Simply listen.
Listen with your eyes, as if the story
you are hearing is happening right now.
Listen without blinking, as if a move
might frighten the truth away forever…
Your whole life might depend on what you hear.
Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.
Perhaps we should sit in the dark…
In the dark we could not see who speaks
and only the words
would say what they say…
There is a quality of listening that is possible among a circle of human beings, who by their attentiveness to one another create a space in which each person is able to give voice to the truth of his or her life. There is the miracle of authentic narrative, made possible by listening that holds still long enough to let our truth be told.
Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.
Our listening creates sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person.
~Rachel Naomi Remen
To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.
I sometimes wake in the early morning & listen to the soft breathing of my children & I think to myself; this is one thing I will never regret & I carry that quiet with me all day long.
Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us – black, white, everyone – no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.
Listening to both sides of a story will convince you that there is more to a story than both sides.
(Curated and adapted for KUF from the 2020 Soul Matters materials for the theme ‘Deep Listening’ by Rev. Beckett Coppola.)