Listening As Spiritual Hospitality: A Gift from Henri Nouwen



This little piece from Henri Nouwen has  much power and offers us a way to break away from the grip of the recent campaign and election.

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.

Henri Nouwen

3 thoughts on “Listening As Spiritual Hospitality: A Gift from Henri Nouwen

  1. Thanks for this, Rita. I feel much grief these days and have to work with myself to not go down into the abyss. Yesterday in the evening I listened to Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges talk alone, and with Bill Moyers about the state of our world (2014 interview with Bill Moyers). Before this election I entertained the hope that we could work with the government. Now, feeling solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux I see we need to stand up for what we believe in, in spite of “powers that be”. I like your quote from Henri Nouwen and realize I am called to listen–and not only with another person, but also with my Beloved–to listen, and wait to hear and take in, what is being said without me trying to determine the response before I hear it from within myself. And to not give up in spite of how discouraging things appear to be.

    Amazing to me how long this simple man, Henri Nouwen continues to speak wisdom and bring comfort to my heart.


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