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Listen Your Way Into a Larger Story

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Start to stop. Stop to hear.

There’s an old story of a woman who could not get pregnant. Her rival got pregnant with unrelenting, vexing regularity. Read the story here—it’s from an ancient text many of us privilege as telling true stuff about the world.

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I keep returning to this story because of what it says about how desperation drives our listening habits. The truth is we don’t listen well. Often we don’t listen until we have to: maybe we need some information and it kills us to slow long enough for the clerk/cashier/spouse to spit it out. But we need that information to get where we need to go.

But what if we made a habit of listening? Intent listening. Close listening, rather than listening only when backed into a corner. What if we eagerly sought out answers in the conversations right around us?

What if the clue to the way forward after our recent lay-off was in the conversation we’ll have at 2:30pm with an old work colleague? What if insight for a growing doubt we’ve had about our faith was just inside the threshold of a chance conversation with an old friend? What if answers to our questions were spinning around us constantly?

That sounds like magical thinking, right?

The woman in the story prayed in her vexation and angst. She prayed so hard the feeble old guy watching her thought she was drunk. The old guy was no prophet and not all that well respected, still, his words formed an answer to the woman’s long-standing question. The story goes on to tell how the answer to her question was part of a much, much larger story with questions an entire nation was asking.

Questions and conversations can be a potent mix.

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Image Credit: Kirk Livingston

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Written by kirkistan

December 18, 2013 at 9:46 am

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