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Reflections for Your Journey compass rose

If you love to listen you will gain knowledge, and if you pay attention you will become wise. --Sirach 6:33

We all know the type: the person who carries on a conversation while looking past you the entire time. Is he searching for someone more interesting, someone more important than you? Resisting the temptation to turn around, you can only wonder what the reason is. One thing you do know, however, is that he isn’t paying attention to what you have to say.

Many of our conflicts today are caused by exactly that—the failure to listen. Instead of really hearing what the other person is saying, we too often stay a step ahead, anticipating his or her argument, or focusing just on the buzzwords—right-wing/liberal, Muslim/Christian, pro-choice/pro-life. Certain that we already know where the conversation is going, we tune the speaker out. What follows, then, is a programmed recitation of stock replies, not a genuine debate.

Real dialogue depends on hearing not just what is said, but also what isn’t. For an example, we could look at Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. When she told Jesus that she had no husband, he responded by saying she was right, that she’d had five husbands. In short, what Jesus was able to do was catch the subtlety of her reply; instead of listening to her words as if they told the entire story, he heard them in the context of her life. He paid attention to her. How would our corporate life be different if we tried to do the same?

O God, help me to be truly present to people whose views are different from mine, hearing the life that lies beneath their words.

Susan Hanson
--from T
oday’s Signpost Daily Meditation.

For a daily devotion, visit SIGNPOSTS



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