Below is my favorite icon of St. Brigid of Kildare, my patron saint. She is holding her famous cross made of rushes in one hand, in the other is a scroll that reads:
To care for the poor
To lighten everyone’s burden
To comfort the suffering
St. Brigid, who lived in 5th century Ireland, is known for her generosity & hospitality. She inspires me to give more of myself. A rare gift we can give another is our presence, our full, non-distracted self; ie, listening to another. This is what I’m working on.
I thought I was a fairly good listener. But, in truth, in light of St. Bendict’s thoughts on listening with the heart, I realize I’m not a good listener at all. In addition, hubby & I have been reading aloud notes from a class he took on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit 5, listening empathically, really rang a bell with me, or, an alarm I should say.
When there is a conflict to be worked through with my husband or children or other family member, I realize that I Iisten to them with only my own reply in mind. I typically listen and filter their feelings through my own experiences. I listen in order to give advice, make judgments and try to figure out problems -- unasked.
What a difference it would be to just listen to another person in order to understand their perspective. Without judgement, without giving unsolicited advice, without interpreting it through my own background.
“Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf”
I’ve learned that if I truly want to hear another person, to understand the conflicts of their heart, then I need to be quiet and listen to them with empathy. I need to remove my judgments and analysis and just hear their words ...and gently affirm what they say in my own words or remain quiet.
When a person is given that freedom to communicate, to speak without fear of judgment, criticism & comparison, the heart of an issue is allowed to come forward.
I believe real listening is a rare gift.
In honor of St. Brigid, who sought to comfort the suffering, I am working on acquiring the ability to really hear another person.
...because it’s a gift worth giving.