4 December 2017
‘Since in order to speak, one must first listen, learn to speak by listening’ Rumi (Sufi mystic)
Listening is quite a challenge today with all the demands made for our attention from social media and in the news. The ever-deepening chasm that is dividing society over Brexit is bringing out the worst in individuals bogged down in opposing trenches. Harmful words uttered, without the feedback of a listening ear saying, ‘Hang on, perhaps there is another way’.
Finding time to stop and listen to others and our inner soul takes practice. The silence in our Taizé prayers at All Hallows is a good way to learn to stop, detune the mind from the demands of the world and just listen. First, you might notice the sound of traffic, the clicks and gurgles of the church radiators, and the breathing and rustling of others in the communion. Soon however, focussing on your breath and on the light – the divinity of Christ, Mary and the Saints before you; you come to an inner peace. In these moments, you and only you can hear a truth. A truth that we are the entire same genus and all in this world together and must learn to hear when we listen. We must allow room for others to speak, and then answer with humility, ‘Perhaps there is another way’.
Christ preached another way; in summarising the legal teachings of the Old Testament, he taught that we must learn to love each other. In Luke 12:3 it is said, ‘What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.’
Hear the whisper in the ear and within. Listen with an intent to understand not an intent to reply.