Being Deeply Listened To

I’ve mentioned several times that I serve on the Board of Directors of City House, a non-profit that works through social service agencies to provide spiritual listening to people on the margins, including those experiencing poverty, addiction and imprisonment.  For many of the people we serve, the experience of having someone listen to them – really listen without judgment – is a new one.  And I know from my own experience as a spiritual director, as well as from the reports of those we serve, how important that is.

I came across this poem by John Fox (from his Finding What You Didn’t Lose) that does a beautiful job of expressing what it means to have someone deeply listen to you.

When someone deeply listens to you
it is like holding out a dented cup
you’ve had since childhood
and watching it fill up with
cold, fresh water.
When it balances on top of the brim,
you are understood.
When it overflows and touches your skin,
you are loved.

When someone deeply listens to you
the room where you stay
starts a new life
and the place where you wrote
your first poem
begins to glow in your mind’s eye.
It is as if gold has been discovered!

When someone deeply listens to you
your bare feet are on the earth
and a beloved land that seemed distant
is now at home within you.

It takes effort to deeply listen to another person.  But you offer an incredible gift to that person by putting in that effort.