February 2, 2015 – From Sr. Karen Bernhardt

February 2, 2015 | Posted in For Contemplation

“Listening is a personal pilgrimage that takes time and a willingness to circle back.

Unpredictable as life itself, the practice of listening is one of the most mysterious, luminous and challenging art forms of the earth. We learn to listen to what we are not yet aware of…” (p.11) Mark Nepo Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

Deep listening happens when I quiet the noise in my own mind and soul, and simply sit with another person, giving him/her the gift of my time and presence. Recently, I have strived to listen in this way with several sisters dealing with health concerns. It is a privilege to witness their deep faith, their trust in the Holy One’s embrace as they face an unknown future.

A willingness to circle back means I have to allow another’s sharing to open my own heart to deepening compassion. As I listened to one of our partners in ministry, working with young Central American children fleeing violence and seeking refuge and family reunification, I felt moved to respond to welcome the strangers in our midst, advocating on their behalf. To truly listen to another is to open ourselves to transformation and conversion.

Listening is always a challenge and always holds mystery. Another recent experience of that “personal pilgrimage” of listening came in a rehab facility where I sat with a friend after the amputation of his lower left leg. He was making plans to return home full of hope. This challenge was not insurmountable for him because he knew that his Beloved would walk with him on this mysterious journey in the company of his family and friends.

Over a month ago, I was sitting in quiet with my step-mother during her last days, in the presence of death, perhaps the deepest of mysteries. During those long days, I was graced with many insights about her life, her struggles and her incredible faith during her 96 years.

During this season of winter, I hope we take time to deeply listen for that which we are not yet “aware.” Through that luminous art of listening, may we ever open ourselves to where God is leading us in Holy Mystery.

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