Listening, A Free and Costly Gift

It’s a rare day when I don’t have the enjoyable errand of picking up my granddaughter from school.  Yesterday was such a day.  Kent and I attended the funeral of Harold Lipford, a 92 year old youngster who loved others well, deeply, kindly, with a twinkle in his eyes.  Even in the grocery store where most are hustling down the aisles, Harold stopped to hug me…always.  And he and his wife Jeannette fill a special place in our hearts–they married us and sang to us about the bumpy road of love. So true:)

Right after that was a weekly gathering I look forward to, meeting with Laura and Shannon, two younger women.  In a matter of months they and their families along with ours will begin an exciting adventure with the Lord to live and share land, gardening, a cow or two, laughter, tears, meals here and there, training others, providing retreats and space to learn to know God, self, others more deeply and simply and be the lights of the world that only comes after we get some light ourselves.

The heart to heart levels of sharing among us three women is gently, quietly going deeper.  A sense of safety and trust built over time allows us to share not just our list of accomplishments in busy days but our disappointments, failures, what we thought would never be known with acceptance but is.

We drove home.  Natalia settled into the old green couch to read. I passed her and zipped into the kitchen to start supper.  I pulled out a skillet and then stopped.  A rush of tenderness for my granddaughter swept over me.  I wanted to see her, listen to her.

Usually I “talk at ” her from the kitchen or ask her to come in there with me while I multi-task. On the way home from school I might ask her about her day.  Depending on her mood, she answers readily, reluctantly, or sometimes just goes silent and pensive.  I continue to ply and pester her with questions until she answers…while I do other things.

My heart was still full, pondering Harold’s remarkable life and the time with my brave, honest, young women friends. I left the kitchen and sat down beside Natalia.  I smiled into her blue eyes.  I said nothing but “talk to me.”

She beamed.  She talked as though putting on a symphony for an audience of one.  It was deep.  One of her friends was down, having been suddenly demoted from best friend to not-best friend of another girl.  The other girl, in Natalia’s words, seemed to be orbiting around another friend as though she was the sun.  So Natalia set about to be with her sad friend and cheer her up.

She was so alive, telling me about it.  I wondered why most of the time she says so little about school.

But i knew the answer.  I’d been busy and/or doing all the talking, not listening very well.

Supper was late getting on the table.  But when we sat down, there was very much connection between us, what you really want in important relationships.  Inside me was a glowing fire of hearth comfort, of hearing her say, “Wow, you are fun to talk to!”  Inside her was the powerful affirmation that comes by being listened to with deep attention…and few words.

A new toy or candy bar is nice for a few seconds.  But then a child still feels hollow, still wanting attention.

Listening, it will cost you some time, some pride maybe.  But when you give it freely to your mate, child, neighbor, friend, it is lavish loving.

What’s your story?  Have you been really heard lately?  Or given someone else the gift of being truly heard?

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One response to “Listening, A Free and Costly Gift

  1. This topic is very dear to me, and you’ve describe both listening and being heard evocatively here. One thing that makes it easier to give my attention generously (even when people aren’t reciprocating) is remembering Jesus’ example. Listening to the Father and to the people He puts in my life is one (costly but free) way I can become more like Jesus every day.

    Liked by 1 person

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