A neighbor walked over to our yard on Wednesday night and told my wife he could come over on Thursday and cut down some overgrown bushes, weeds and grass that’s in the middle of a small pond on our property. There would be no charge and all he needed was our “Okay.” which she gave him. When we arrived home yesterday he’d done what he said and it looked great. Yesterday evening he came back over and I thanked him for doing it.
I met this gentleman on a cold morning last December soon after my wife and I moved in. He stopped by to introduce himself. He’s a normal looking fellow, country born and raised but I noticed right away he has speech impediment. It can be hard to understand him unless you listen carefully.
There’s a spiritual discipline called contemplative listening. It teaches that a person should set aside their agendas, appointments, task lists and still their thoughts in conversations with each other. We’re not to plan what we’re going to say next while the other person speaks but to soak in every word, feeling and experience the conversation as an act of love and empathy. It requires a slowing down and a belief the present moment and conversation can be worship, a recognition of God in the midst of his Creation.
It is an incredibly hard discipline which I struggle with greatly but each time I encounter my neighbor I am reminded of the need to practice and listen…carefully.