*Afterthought #51 – Listening as an Act of Love

I’m continuing to read and enjoy Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, the latest book from StoryCorps that I reviewed in my previous post, The Perfect Pairing. And, as so often happens when I tune in to something new, I’ve experienced some lovely synchronicity—in this case, regarding the book’s example about the importance of listening.

As part of my research about Callings, I visited the StoryCorps website and found this video introduction for the project.

I was struck especially by this comment, “When you listen, great things are going to happen.” StoryCorps has some facts to support that claim. In 2015, the project surveyed listeners and found out some great things have happened as people have listened. Here are a few:

  • Increased understanding of people with a disability or serious illness
  • Increased understanding of immigrants, Latinos, and African Americans
  • Feeling connected to people with different backgrounds
  • Reminded listeners of their shared humanity
  • Helped them see the value in everyone’s life story and experience
  • Became interested in thinking about how society could be improved
  • Made them feel more positive about society

 A few days later, I got some clues about why Dave Isay considers listening “an act of love” in this On Being interview with Krista Tippett. Now I want to read another StoryCorps title, Listening Is an Act of Love.listening cover

Of course, I also was delighted with Isay’s answer to Krista’s question that she opens each interview with about his religious or spiritual background in childhood: “I went to Hebrew school when I was a kid. And I didn’t connect at all. I went to a Friends school for high school. I think I’m culturally Jewish—and maybe a little more spiritually Quaker.”

On the heels of that interview came this QuakerSpeak video.

In this conversation, a Quaker named O talks about the role of listening in healing our humanity. She also offered thoughts on what happens when we don’t listen:

My concern is that we don’t listen to each other, and it creates the world we see… People not being heard, not being seen, not being appreciated, not being valued, not being recognized. People not being recognized for that of God that dwells within them… And so we fragment… We become broken because we are not seen for who we really are.

O refers to the Quaker practice of listening each other into wholeness… to the place “where our heart is actually touched.”

My heart has been touched by all of this listening.


*“Afterthoughts” are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, maybe even bumper stickers.


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