The holiday season bombards us with sounds both sacred and secular, with scriptures so familiar that hearing them fresh is a challenge, and with old and perhaps unconscious scripts of what family and gifts mean to us. Perhaps you saw or spoke to friends and family members, people you don’t always touch in with. Or missed the voices and listening ears of people you used to see every year. What did you find yourself saying? What would you have said if they were really ready to listen? What did you hear?
The Gospels show us Jesus as a ready listener at the deepest level. He never chats about the weather, does he? The One who gives life is present in the fullest way imaginable.
Jesus’ ability to listen signals God’s ability to really be present with us. And when we are really present with others…. I’m sure you can remember some indelible examples of this in your own experience… we step out of the routine and into a completely different way of being alive, in ourselves and with each other. A way that is affirming, both when life is glorious and when it’s tough.
Isn’t it too easy, though, to slip into habits that close us off from the depth of life such listening offers? How often do we come to a meeting or a liturgy or a coffee hour and go away feeling as though we missed an opportunity to hear and to be heard? Or worse, know with dreadful certainty that we have cut off that very opportunity?
Just as we listen attentively to Holy Scripture, and allow the music and words of our liturgy to fill us and speak beyond the words to our hearts, we are invited to listen to each other and attend to what is most alive in us. Invited to grow this capacity, as a discipline that promises to unlock new life for us as individuals and as a community of Christian people.
This invitation is real! In fact, a two-part course in “Building Listening Skills” is being offered this month.
On the evenings of January 12 (Monday) and January 27 (Tuesday) Cathie Macaulay, a teacher and pastoral animator who developed a full course in listening for the Ignatian Spirituality Centre, will come to our parish to facilitate this learning. Please consider this invitation personally. Contact the office to register before Thursday, January 8. You are asked to contribute what you can towards the cost of $20 for the course, which begins at 7 pm each of those evenings.
In the words of Armand Nigro, SJ: “God is for us entirely, in a selfless way, accepting us as we are, with all our limitations…. A humble attitude of listening is a sign of love for God, and a real prayer from the heart.”