Minister’s Musings on Deep Listening

In our Unitarian Universalist tradition, we value speaking up.  Our faith encourages us to share our diverse theologies with one another, to vote in our congregations and communities, to make our voices heard.  But all this speaking up requires that we are also willing to listen.  After all, a room of people talking at one another is just noise.  Raising our unique individual voices only becomes meaningful communication when we also engage in times of listening.

“Deep Listening” is our Soul Matters theme for October.  What do you think of when you encounter that phrase?  Who or what are you called to listen to more deeply in this time? 

Are you called to listen to a neighbor who has a different perspective in life? 

Are you called to listen to our spiritual ancestors who recorded their experiences in songs, scripture, and other sacred writings? 

Are you called to listen to your own conscience? 

Are you called to listen to the earth and what it is telling us about the effects of our actions? 

Are you called to listen to a friend going through a painful experience?

Are you called to listen to those who have studied science, theology, history, or other subjects and who have wisdom to share with you?

Are you called to listen to a fellow Tree of Life congregant you don’t know well – or one who has irritated you in the past?

Deep listening requires that we set aside our own agendas.  We stop focusing on whether we agree or disagree with what is being said or how we’ll respond when the person stops talking.  We adopt an attitude of humility and curiosity and a genuine desire to understand what somebody is trying to tell us. 

When was the last time you had somebody truly, deeply listen to you – without interruption, without assessment, without any agenda?  How did it feel?  I know for me, it feels wonderful to know somebody cares enough to simply hear what I am saying.  As individuals and as a congregation, let’s offer that gift to others this month.

Rev. Jenn Gracen

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