The Hospitality of Listening in Fractious Times





The real host is the one who offers that space where we do not have to be afraid and where we can listen to our own inner voices and find our own personal way of being human. But to be such a host we have to first of all be at home in our own house.

Henri Nouwen Reaching Out


The person not at home in his own house pounces on potential captive listeners unleashing a steady stream of empty, repetitive words leaving a conscious listener, one who is at home in herself, depleted of energy and feeling victimized.
I know this pattern well, having fulfilled my needs this way at the expense of my listeners for over half of my life. The words tumbled out in such rapid succession it was impossible to notice the telltale shifting of focus in my fidgiting audience.
This pattern of behavior has grown in epidemic proportions in the last year as people try to cope with the changing landscape of national politics in many countries. We have become lonely and feel abandoned by those mandated to insure our best interests. So we talk about it. And talk about it. Possessed by our opinions, even possessed by sincere and noble convictions, we attempt to convert listeners to our views, even if they already share those views. They become overwhelmed by our strident energy and leave our physical presence without experiencing our spiritual presence.
Pause. Breathe between words. We must return to our own internal houses where we might find that we aren’t alone after all. Some solitude will teach us the radical hospitality of listening to the other.



Photo Credit Man Pointing:
Photo Credit Woman Yelling:

2 thoughts on “The Hospitality of Listening in Fractious Times

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