Thursday, November 08, 2012
A Listening Ear--Carolyn R. Wilker
Our wedding season is over, with two beautiful and happy brides, meaningful ceremonies, and enjoyable receptions—all a mother could hope for. I will admit that with two daughters getting married in a few months, my focus has largely been on my family.
There was shopping for special outfits and gifts as well as time spent discussing details and listening. Any big event like this requires communication and cooperation. My questions were: How can I help? And where do I need to be?
My daughters are mature and make their own decisions—many of them, wise decisions. All three daughters ask for advice from time to time, including the one married first who has two small children.
In teaching, there’s listening too—checking for understanding of material taught. In Toastmasters, we listen attentively to others’ speeches so that we can give helpful feedback in the learning process. And at the Button Factory, when the Baden Storyteller’s Guild hosts Open Story Night, there’s nothing better than to sit back and listen to stories.
I enjoy attending plays in which my niece has a role. It’s my main purpose in being there, to hear her and the other actors tell the story, and to support her. I also look forward to a concert in Kitchener very soon, with Lunch at Allen’s—a group of musicians and singers. I will be listening, since I love music.
I get frustrated when I hear other people talking while actors are performing or when someone is speaking. It seems disrespectful to those on stage and makes it harder to hear the words coming from the stage. The same could be true in a classroom when I’m there to teach or learn.
My three-year-old granddaughter has learned what the phone is for. It’s amusing to hear her talk on our play phone when she comes for a visit. She pretends to listen to another person on the other end. We’ll never know the part of the conversation she makes up, with her phone tucked between her ear and shoulder as she sees others do. When she’s done listening or talking, she’ll hang up and tell me who had called. It might be mommy or daddy or even one of their dogs.
When my daughter is speaking with me on the phone, she’ll often ask her three-year-old if she wants to say hello to Grandma. Most often she says yes and hurries to the phone.
“Hello, Gandma,” my granddaughter says. Then she’ll tell me about her day and all I have to do is say “hello” and listen, for the conversation will be short. I hang up after such a conversation and smile.
Active listening has a place in the home with family, and with friends. When a friend is going through a difficult time, there may not be anything one can do but listen and pray for the person. There’s listening to be done every day, with conversations, radio and videos people might watch for business or pleasure.
Jesus listened too—to his followers and to people who asked for healing. He responded because he heard the need and wanted to restore the person to health. He also listened for God’s messages to him.
Listening is a part of our everyday world. Listen closely next time a loved one says something. It just might be a word of appreciation or an “I love you.”
Author of Once Upon a Sandbox
Editor and contributor to Big Ideas for the Big Stage
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