Tag Archives: listening

Try to listen.

In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invites African American Scientist Booker T. Washington to the White House for a visit. As is often the case whenever a president does something, there was immediate furor over whether or not it was appropriate for the president to do that. As many opined in the papers, a well-known African American scholar, Charles W. Chestnutt, wrote this in an essay entitled “Obliterating the Color Line” in the New York World:

“We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things; there is no more powerful a factor than sentiment in the conduct of human affairs.”

We do not go wrong by listening with empathy and extending understanding to those around us.

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Filed under thought of the day

Space Alliens and Grief

I have busy mornings. Every Soldier does. There is PT, getting ready for the day, coming up with something pithy (thought of the day) for my morning staff meting, and having breakfast with my family. I make the breakfast thing a priority because its important that we all begin the day together and end the day together at dinner.

There is not a great deal of time in that routine for doing other things besides what I have mentioned. When that routine is upset, it can set the day on edge.

This morning, it was a stuffed lion. Lila. Not sure why Sophie named her favorite animal after her cousin but she did and Lila is a presence at our house. Lila comes to dinner. Lila doesn’t like green food. Lila was not impressed with so-and-so at school today. Lila would really like to watch some TV now…

This morning Lila was missing in action. Nowhere to be found. There were tears. Sobs. Snot. The usual grief. I spent some time this morning doing grief counseling with my child. We walked through shock, denial, anger, bargaining and (after giving approximately 55 seconds of my morning to actually look for said stuffed lion) were reaching acceptance through the depression – we stat down for breakfast. There were bites of cheerios and concerns about whether or not Lila had a blanket on her, wherever she was.

That’s when this happened: (I quote from my Facebook)

Sophia was concerned about her stuffed lion that she couldn’t find this morning so Ransom calmly told her it was probably taken by space aliens who have a space ship with a green light that sucks animals into the ship where the aliens get to play with it. Not to worry, the aliens are mostly nice.

… Not. Comforting.

I was all, “Son. Really??” Sobs begin all over again.

Then, the little stinker walks into his and ‘Fia’s room and comes out with Lila after two seconds.

“Where was that Ransom??”

“Oh, she was just under ‘Fia’s pillow.”

Right, of course she was. Why didn’t I think of that. Bad Dad…

I listen all day long. I hear stories all day long. I hear grief all day long. Sometimes, I’m so worn down from all that, I stop hearing what is being said and I assume (or pass judgement) on what is being said based on my circumstances.

“That’s not a big deal.” “I wouldn’t worry about that.” “There are worse things happening in the world. What makes you so different??”

These are not helpful. They are not kind. I don’t mean to be unkind. I certainly do not intend to blow people off but I’m busy and busyness tends to erode pastoral care.

With people, fast is slow and slow is fast.

Today, hear what someone is saying to you. Really listen. Stop. Use eye contact. Present open body language. Listen.

When you want to respond. Don’t. Continue to listen.

It’ll be more helpful than you know.

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March 21, 2013 · 1:51 pm