Monday, November 17, 2008

Listening

Today two people of a certain religious persuasion came to my door. I saw in it an opportunity to be converted. Not to be converted to another religion, which is what they had hoped, but to be converted from "being right" and "having my say" to welcoming humanity to my doorstep. Their comments began like this:

"We'd like to tell you..."

"You might be interested in..."

"This article here says that..."


Many years ago, I used to engage folks like this in conversational warfare, pinpointing differences between our faiths and arguing my stance, in order to "save them from the error of their ways." No longer.


Maybe, today, it was the reminder from Laura Swan that helped me to respond the way I did. Laura Swan, prioress of Saint Placid Priory in Lacey, Washington, spoke Saturday at Contemplative Outreach. "You should sometimes read things you don't agree with," she said, "to practice hearing other points of view."

And so I decided to listen to these two women without trying to formulate a single comeback or argument. My thoughts went like this...

Look at the woman. Listen to where she is coming from. This faith means so much to her. Where has she been in her life? Look at her partner. See the tiredness in both of their eyes. See how desperately they want to do what's right.

When they left I said "Thank you," and they said, "Thank you," and I could hear the softness and relief in their voices at this strange thing that had happened, at this peace at how their words were heard, as they smiled and went on their way.

3 comments:

Larry said...

I can imagine this a story in the Gospel of John as “Two Women at the Doorstep.”

So He listened to them with compassion. And when they left, they left with peace, for He accepted them not for what they believed, but who they were.

Later, his disciples asked him, “Why did you not correct those women regarding their false beliefs and teach them about the one true faith?”

He said, “When the two women came to the doorstep, they were weary, close to despair. Their intention was good; their motive was pure. What was their immediate need: to be rejected once again, told that their faith is wrong and as torn cloth, or to drink in compassion, to feel acceptance, even be encouraged to live with joy and strength?

"Who you are and how you behave towards your neighbor is more telling than what you think and believe. Love must never judge who is worthy to receive it, but share love freely with all, for so does our father in heaven love without measure or restraint."

P.S. Then they went from there to somewhere else and did something else.

Christi Krug said...

All terrific! Especially the part when they went from there to somewhere else and did something else.

Writer on Board said...

Amen.