Our theme for the month of February is Listening. One might wonder how the simple act of listening could be the topic for an entire month within our Fellowship. A simple act that perhaps is not so simple in that, when done well, it can have far reaching effects on the feelings of the listener as well as the one listened to.
Our Fellowship provides multitudes of opportunities to practice the art of listening. One of the most obvious is our Sunday service. Listening to the ringing of the chime as Reverend Alison enters down the center aisle. The chime, symbolizing the beginning of our time together, a quieting of our outside lives and coming to our center. It’s a beautiful tone. We all love our choir and the outstanding music they provide. We listen to our children who make precious comments during together time. The sermons always have a message, likely to be received differently by our members but having specific significance for everyone. Listening to the harmony in our services. Harmony incorporating music, sermon, readings, welcome and benediction, all relating to a common theme.
“Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen”. – Margaret Wheatley
Our Small Group Ministry gatherings provide this more intimate experience of listening. Members listen intently, without interruption or judgement, to other members’ feelings, experiences and thoughts. Listening from the heart requires putting the mind aside. When the mind creeps in with thoughts they detract from heartfelt listening. For some SGM participants this may be their first experience expressing their thoughts without feeling judgement or criticism. I know that it was for me.
The following quote from David Augsburger perhaps expresses why listening is so meaningful in the Small Group setting: “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.”
Listening is an act of kindness. An act of love, that can be very healing.
More personally, some of my most enjoyable moments over the years have been listening to the peaceful silence of nature. I love the early morning and being in complete awe of the beauty that surrounds me in a national park. Or while driving along the coast, the ever flowing thoughts in my mind fade and it’s just me close to nature, my experience of God and the perfection of my surroundings. Nothing soothes my soul as completely as such an experience.
During the Expanding Our Vision process here at UUFA, it is our hope that each of you feels that we have listened and have heard your comments. Although we may not be able to incorporate everyone’s ideas, our goal has been to listen and take to heart your thoughts and dreams. Following the successful completion of our Capital Campaign, we will be listening again. And hopefully it won’t be too long before we have the pleasure of listening to construction sounds.
Here’s to Listening