What Does It Mean To Be
A People of Deep Listening?
This is your chance to listen carefully.
Your whole life might depend on what you hear. (Joyce Sutphen)
Listening helps us find our way. The listening of therapists allows us to navigate our way through life. We turn to prayer to hear God’s guidance. We listen to experts so we can get ahead. Like a flashlight that leads us through the darkness, listening helps us keep on course.
And yet our faith says not quite. There’s so much more to it than that. Listening doesn’t just guide us through the world, it says. It also creates our world.
Just think about why you listen to those close to you. Is it really just to gather information? To hear the other clearly? Or is it because you’ve discovered in those rare moments of deep listening that a space suddenly opens up? A space that feels sacred. A space that, once you’ve experienced it, you never want to leave.
This is why the flashlight way of understanding listening is so limited and limiting. Listening’s value isn’t just instrumental. It doesn’t just help us collect and expose information. It’s not just a tool.
It’s a place.
Those voices calling us home are our home. We don’t have conversations; we are our conversations. Listening literally determines the world we live in. And whom we become.
That old story about the cricket and coins comes to mind. Two people are walking down a busy city street. Everyone is rushing to and from their work, trying to get ahead. One of the friends turns to the other and says, “Do you hear that? It’s a cricket!” The other friend responds with doubt, but after focusing his attention finally hears it. “Wow,” he says, “How did you hear that cricket with all the noise around us?” His friend responds, “It’s all about how I was raised, about what I was taught to listen for.” He goes on, “Here, I’ll show you something.” The friend then reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handful of coins – nickels, quarters, dimes – and he drops them on the sidewalk. Everyone who was rushing by stops… to listen.
One wonders if this is why the poet says, “Listen carefully. Your whole life might depend on what you hear.”
Again friends, we must remember this: We don’t have conversations, we are our conversations. Who and what we listen to is who and what we become.
May this month, and our time together, help us take one more step toward listening our way into being.
– Courtesy of Soul Matters Sharing Circle a UU theme-based ministry program
Lectio Divina and Listening for God
This exercise invites you to try out a deep listening technique developed by our Christian siblings. It’s called Lectio Divina. Learn more about it here and here. The basic idea is to deeply listen to a text by reading it multiple times through a different reflective lens each time. You can also think of it as bringing different discernment questions to the text, with each question inviting you to listen to the text in a new way. Our favorite three questions are:
- What FEELINGS arise?
- What MEMORIES does it stir?
- What MESSAGE does it have for you? (“words of comfort or challenge”)
Christians believe this is a powerful way to allow God to speak through the text. They often describe it as a “prayerful” way (versus “analytical”) way of reading. Relatedly, it’s important to note that many Christians agree with theologian, Henri Nouwen, who said, “The real “work” of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me… [Prayer] is the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved.”
With all this in mind, we invite you to apply a lectio divina approach to two poems. Each, in their own way, lift up the idea of the Sacred saying, “You are beloved.”
Here are the two poems:
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
God Says Yes To Me by Kaylin Haught
Read them three times. With the first reading guided by the question: What FEELINGS arise as I listen to the words?” And the second reading guided by “What MEMORIES does it stir?” Ending with a third reading guided by “What MESSAGE does this have for me? What word of comfort or challenge is it trying to offer me?” (On this third reading it often helps to listen for which single word or phrase pops out at you, and then apply the question to that word/phrase.)
If you are up for a fourth reading, consider using this question to guide you: “Who am I in the text? Which character or action represents me and where I’m at right now?”
Questions for Reflection
- Who listened to you when you most needed it? Who first gave you the gift of deep listening?
- How has your listening needed to change as you’ve grown older?
- Have you forgiven yourself for failing to listen?
- Ok, you’ve been listening. Is it now time to talk?
- Are you having trouble hearing beyond the voice of your wounds?
- Instead of arguing with them, what if next time you asked “Will you tell me your story? I’d love to know how you came to this point of view.”
What if listening is actually an act of love?
Do you remember what it was like to listen to the soft breathing of your child as they slept?
What if prayer is really about listening until you hear a voice that says “You are beloved”?
What gets in your way the most: The noise of the world? The noise of your worries? The noise of our wounds?
What is your question?
Every Family. Every Person. A Home
We realize our vision of ending homelessness for families by inspiring stable housing, financial independence, and resilience. Founded in 2006, CATCH is a leader and innovator in housing our most vulnerable neighbors in Idaho’s Treasure Valley. We collaborate with community partners and use proven, intentional methods like Housing First (learn more about Housing First here), because every family and every person deserves a home.
As you explore our mission, we hope you leave with one thought: ending homelessness is possible. Housing First is the solution.
Our program serves both Ada and Canyon Counties in Idaho. If you are currently experiencing homelessness, head over to our “Clients and Families” page to learn more about our program.
- Stable Housing: Getting families into a home rapidly provides the best chance to build a stable and sustainable life. Working with local property managers and landlords, we will rapidly house families living tonight in emergency shelter on the streets. There is no such thing as a temporary solution; therefore, the family signs a lease in their name. The house is permanent. It is their home. We sponsor the application fee, security deposit, and rent for as long as the family is in the program.
- Financial Independence: Once the key turns into their new home, our case managers get to work. Through intensive financial literacy and the CATCH Match Savings Program, families increase their annual income on average by over $6,000 and their savings by $1,000, making sustainable their new home.
- Resilience: We recognize that the family and the children have experienced trauma in their journey, we want to co-create a new story based on their strengths that have served them to this moment. We believe that language matters. Read more why we use people first language here.