Listening Enough - Rev. Dr. Jerry Black

It is simple, but profound. Developing the capacity to listen transforms.

It started with an astute observation from my Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor. “Jerry,” he said, “the theme for your life is intensity. You talk with intensity. You walk with intensity. Your life is lived with intensity.” Suddenly, the lights went on. The elevator ascended. The grey cells moved, and I saw my pain. No wonder Susan had to frequently rub the knots from my neck. No wonder my stomach muscles were often cramped. No wonder I had trouble thinking—abstractly or practically.

So now I had before me a new challenge—change. But change can be difficult. It requires thought and practice. It requires intention and purpose. I started by giving myself permission to walk more slowly, sit down from time-to-time and ponder the mysteries of the universe, watch and observe, absorb and breathe. I took up the practice of deep breathing while reciting the word “relax.” And the principles of behavior modification and autosuggestion became my best friend.

But then came the most amazing discovery: James 1:19b—a text that was a recent worship focus: “… be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.” As that text took root, I began the practice of listening—listening with intentionality; listening to my doubts; listening more closely to the ideas and precepts of others; listening to the sounds of the universe; listening to the voice of God. And in so doing, a unique kind of healing began—and continues to this day, giving life, energy, and wisdom; health and peace.

Thought to ponder: Can we ever listen enough?

God of our Lenten journey,
help us to learn the transforming, healing power of listening, in others and in ourselves.

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