September 18, 2011

Lending An Ear

Sometimes I wish I could tell you everything. I wish we could go sit on the porch of a mountain
cabin, put our feet up on the rail and just be real. Pour our hearts out...wouldn't that feel good?
To know I was there for the sole purpose of listening to you and you to me? It would be even better if we were able to actually focus on what the other was saying without getting distracted.

The other day my son and I were discussing what we'd be like if we were able to use 100% of our
brains. He said, "Well Mom, we'd be a whole lot smarter than we are now."

I'm wondering what we'd be like, what life would be like, if we could take that power, all 100% of
it, and put it toward just listening to another person. Imagine the insight you'd have...
the compassion...you'd be able to hear their soul crying out for oh so much...

I had a glimpse of what that would feel like a few years ago. We were at a friend's house for lunch;
(actually it was my sister-in-law's brother's house, but that's splitting hairs) there were a lot of
people in the room and a lot of noise. Everyone was talking and laughing, cooking and munching.

I was relaxed and comfortable, enjoying the moment, when suddenly my sister-in-law's other brother
stopped talking, munching and laughing. He looked me right in the eye and said, "Judy, how are
you?"

Normally when you're asked that question you say, "I'm fine. How are you?" But when I looked up
to answer him I was taken completely off guard. He meant it. The room grew quiet as
every person there looked first at him, then me. They all knew he meant it. He really and truly
wanted to know how I was and he wasn't going to look away, take a bite, start talking, or scratch
his head until he'd heard my answer, no matter how long it took or how much I said.

I was taken so off guard I couldn't at first reply. I didn't know what to say. My heart was so full
of the need to have someone actually listen I didn't know where to begin. How vulnerable
do I want to be? Do you have days and days to sit here because I really think I could talk that long.
Good grief, where do I begin? No one has EVER put me on the spot like this. Are you for real?

To top off the moment, I knew this man had just given his daughter away in marriage less than
24 hours ago. I also knew he was a very busy man with a stressful job, and was leaving in a
day or two on a business trip and he's wondering how I am??

I sighed and finally settled on one topic. Our sons. I poured out just a bit of what was going on
in my heart as the mother of an emptying nest. The sadness, the concerns, the confusion I felt with
some of their choices, the joy I felt at how they were turning out...I gave him just a bit of me but it
was enough. He listened with both ears and gave me complete and total eye contact. Not for a
second did I sense he was bored or thinking about anything except what I was saying. It was a gift I will never, ever forget.

To make the moment even sweeter, it turned out I wasn't the only one with those mixed emotions.
Every person there was feeling the same way. We all laughed, vented, sighed, and teared up.
Because one man took the time to listen, many were encouraged and when the afternoon was ending, we all left, feeling less like islands and more like life boats.

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