Generous Listening

I shouldn’t be amazed. I’ve participate in and lead enough groups to know that if the table is prepared, the ambience welcoming and I step aside and make room for the Holy, people show up for themselves and each other. Yet once again as I reflect after the Grief and Loss workshop I led Sunday, I am in awe of the courage shown by six women to step into the unexplored spaces of their hearts and share with honesty what flows out through their pens. I come back again and again to the words of Parker Palmer in “A Hidden Wholeness” that speaks to the need to allow the “shy voice” inside each of us to be heard. And again to the wisdom of Rachel Naomi Remen in “My Grandfather’s Blessings,” for the need to learn the art of “generous listening.”

How often have you felt truly heard in your life? In my experience, when I am heard without someone trying to fix, explain or change me, what needs to unfold, will occur naturally. When someone tries to fix me, I’m like a plant being yanked out of a pot to be transplanted into a bigger pot than I’m ready for—my roots struggle to adapt and I don’t thrive, I simply survive. However, I’ve discovered a generous listener will offer gentle non-judgmental noticing, offer a simple question or be silent as they companion with me. Then my own spirit works with the Holy in my life as I sort through the stories, beliefs and truths I hold in the deep waters of my soul.

Like the journey our workshop set out on Sunday, none of us, myself included, knew exactly where we would end up. We wrote, we shared, we held space for each other, we snacked (yes, there was a literal table set!) we walked the labyrinth. There was no fixing, no explanations or justifications. Just time to be present. Our individual journeys will continue to unfold. For a few hours we heard each other speak, gave the “shy voice” a chance to be heard, perhaps for the first time. And at the end of our time together, we returned to our own lives with our new insights cradled in our journals and hearts, ready to be nurtured by tender self-care.

So maybe I am not amazed. Simply grateful.

 Journey Through Loss: Exploring Grief and Loss Through the Archetype of the Labyrinth workshop, Oct 2, 2016. Held at Awakening Wellness Center, SE Portland.

Journey Through Loss: Exploring Grief and Loss Through the Archetype of the Labyrinth workshop, Oct 2, 2016. Held at Awakening Wellness Center, SE Portland.