"I am large. I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Listening with Your Heart

"Look out for one another's interests, not just your own." Philippians 2:4

Anyone who's been in conversation or contact with me for the past half year would know that I've fallen deep in love with podcasts, specifically Radiolab and The American Life (This week, a Radiolab production was aired on The American Life. It felt weird, akin to the feelings I get when I inadvertently mix my groups of friends).

I even went as far as a radio project of my own, an interview with my dad, but that was really inspired by StoryCorps. To this day, I haven't listened to the whole recording. Maybe it's because it's a little too close to my heart. I tried listening to it with my nephew Papi a few days after the recording and he was really interested to hear what his grandfather was talking about, until he heard crying and he looked at me with those doleful, almond-shaped eyes and asked: "That's you? You're crying?"

Anyway, forgive the tangential route I've taken. My point is that I love listening to stories. I do like telling stories too, but there is a quiet joy that listening - really listening - brings to my heart.

I wonder sometimes if the people I encounter in my life feels this. I ask because I've had in a few occasions, had people who are not necessarily that close to me, confide in me, things that they themselves admit they wouldn't normally do. I do think maybe it's because we're not that close that is the reason for the trust, sort of like when you go to confession. Absolution from a stranger.

I will share with you three encounters. First is from years back, 15 years or so. A colleague of mine then confided in me about the multiple abortions she's had and how she's haunted by the memory of these babies. A year ago, another colleague lamented how tired she was to take care of her sister who was emotionally unstable and prone to suicide. And two nights back, in a restaurant, the manager I say hi to every time I'm there recounted the last days of her mother who died last December and how she is filled with such grief.

Yesterday on the bus home from work I couldn't help but hope that this listening serves those who have courageously opened up their hearts to me. You know, you would be hard-pressed to find a person who values trust as much as I, and when people share with me, not just their lives, but their hearts, I recognize it as grace. And honor. And privilege. If I could physically hold it, I would be clutching it close to my heart, that is how much it moves me.

I do wonder sometimes why people confide in me. What convinces them that I will listen and possibly have empathy for what they're going through? I wondered about that when the restaurant manager opened up to me. And I recognized it as a precious treasure. An unearned gift in all the meaning that that word can hold. I pray I serve Aslan with it. I pray He uses whatever this is that He's strangely given me and I ask that He surprise me with opportunities to connect with people, to listen with my heart, and share parts of each other's journey.


bluggerbug said...

“To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation”

You wonder? You're a great conversationalist, that's why! You listen with your heart. :)

Mayang said...

You are such a keeper, you know? You are one of the few who actually want to listen to *my* stories too! Thanks for that! HUGS!!

Babs said...

I think you can listen as well as you can talk, mayang. That's your gift. :) Others just love the sound of their voice. (waaaah!)

btw, where's my podcast!? sa april na lang when you come home! :)

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