“Pay attention to what I am telling you.” (Lk 9:44)
Paying attention to others, especially when they speak, is a simple act of courtesy that every person deserves, especially children and the elderly. Nevertheless, for any number of reasons, we often fail in this regard. We are busy, distracted, and anxious or have a cluttered mind or schedule. Unfortunately, because children and the aging have less to distract them, they notice when we are not listening, and while they may not say anything, they are often hurt and confused by our failure to be fully present to them.
The Venerable Solanus Casey, a Capuchin friar who died more than 60 years ago, and whose cause for sainthood has already begun, was best known for his ability to listen to others with compassion. Each day at the Capuchin friary in Detroit, Michigan, people would line up for an opportunity to speak with Fr Solanus. Some wanted him to intercede with God to cure them. Others wanted prayers for a job. Most simply wanted to be with him because he had a calming effect on people. As is often said about the people who go to Lourdes, they might not all be cured, but all of them are healed. Solanus Casey healed people by listening with openness of spirit and compassion to all those who came to the friary, and his gentle listening reminded people that God listens, too, and will never abandon us. Perhaps that is why more than 20,000 people came to his wake and funeral.
Today, try listening to someone intentionally. Don't search for answers. Just listen.
Are there practices you have developed that help you listen to others without distraction?