October 26 – The Effort to Listen, Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“What is so important that we have time to read all the books on love and relationships but we do not have time to listen to the heart of our lover?” Molly Vass 

We all suffer, at times, from the effort to study something instead of living it. Or from the effort to fix or advise rather than to listen and to hold. But as the theologian Paul Tillich puts it, “The first duty of love is to listen.”

When I think of the times I have truly listened in my life—to the sea’s endless lapping, to the sighs of my grandmother when she thought no one was near, to the pains of others that I have caused—it is receiving these simple truths that has made me a better man.

So often when we refuse to listen, we become obsessed with remaking the world in our own image, rather than opening the spirit within us to the spirit of what is.

At the deepest level, ours is not to make ourselves heard but to be still enough to hear. As the Native American Elder Sa’k’ej Henderson says,“To truly listen is to risk being changed forever.”

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