I learned something new about listening while on retreat at Casa de Maria. I’ve studied and taught listening most my life, so I know how to listen for feelings and metaphor. I pay attention to non-verbal cues and listen between the lines for what’s not being said. But all these skills get in the way of listening from a neutral position of simply being present for someone. Waiting for my turn to speak is not the same thing as being silent when listening.
In the Quaker tradition of a clearing circle, the listener learns that silence is not an absence but a presence. Silence holds the space as a guardian for the interaction between speaker and listener, inviting deeper inquiry. In a clearing circle, silent presence is an expansive expression of acceptance and love. In women’s forum, this is the kind of listening we aspire to learn. True listening is a practice in loving.
by Adelaide Waters