sacred listening

by Kristen

The sacred act of listening.[1]

Jesus listened. He asked people what they wanted. He allowed them to speak and be heard. He honored their requests not only by fulfilling their desires but by hearing them, by listening to them. He didn’t have to. He could have acted without a conversation—it would have been no less miraculous—but He didn’t. He saw them. He engaged them. He heard them.

Listening is knowing. It is fully present multi-input observation. It’s hearing the words, spoken and not—the silence, the searching and the fumbling. It’s seeing the hurt, the joy, the confusion, the value.

In the presence of good listeners I hear myself saying words out loud I didn’t know I had in me. Good listeners hear me, and they make sure I hear me. They ask questions: good, hard, necessary questions. And they wait. They offer the time and space I need to find my words. They circle back—they don’t forget—but they don’t rush me. They are a safe repository for my words.

Listening is work and art and gift. It’s a slow excavation, sifting through dirt and brushing off debris to unearth the treasure. It takes heart and presence and investment. It’s slow, meticulous work. It’s costly.

To be heard is powerful. To have a voice, to have words honored. To be known . . . is sacred. And it is beautiful.


[1] “[l]istening itself is a sacred act.” Shauna Niequist, Savor: living abundantly where you are, as you are (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), p. 141


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