Each month, a member of the board will share a reflection on the Soul Matters monthly theme and the state of the church. The theme for October is Deep Listening. This month’s post is offered by Bill Arnold.
“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.” – David Augsburger
Last week, I read a description of how different people interpret a simple question. Imagine you are watching TV and someone asks: “What are you doing?”. The simple response, of course, is “Watching TV”. Most likely, however, that was not the actual question being asked. It might have really been “Can I join you?” or “Why are you sitting there when you have a bunch of work to do?”. This is an example of simple versus deep listening. We should be more than just aware of the sounds around us. Listening is recognizing context, processing, contemplating, and considering other points of view.
Our theme for the month of October is Deep Listening. Despite having the Soul Matters packet in hand, I decided to visit the great oracle of Google for a definition. Of course, there were hundreds, but I found this one from The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society compelling: “Deep Listening is a way of hearing in which we are fully present with what is happening in the moment without trying to control it or judge it. We let go of our inner clamoring and our usual assumptions and listen with respect for precisely what is being said.”
There is nuance in listening that leads to a path of understanding and growth. With Reverend Lisa joining us as our Developmental Minister, we are going to have many opportunities in the coming year to listen to each other and our community as we plot the path forward for UUCM. As we manage church life in the Covid-19 era, we must listen to each other to gauge which of our activities are most critical and how we can carry them out in a safe manner. As we assess how best to support racial justice in our community, we have to listen to those who experience discrimination, fear, and frustration that many of us do not. It is critically important to listen for “precisely what is being said”, because our own experiences and perspectives are certainly very different. As we listen, we learn, and learning can lead us to compassion and action.
A key function of the UUCM Board of Trustees is to listen to our moral owners – the members and friends of UUCM. As we move forward with our planning, please let us know your thoughts and opinions so that we can listen to you.
In the next month, there will be lots of talking, shouting, and clamoring to be heard by politicians, their supporters, and their critics. For all the export of words and information, there always seems to be less intake. While those in power may hear input, there is little deep listening that occurs. Think of the positives that could happen if any two people are able to sit down and converse with and listen to (rather than talk at) each other. By listening we can bring about change and growth. We need to take the time to listen to each other.
— Bill Arnold
Member, UUCM Board of Trustees