Roger: What haven’t I asked?

Paula: The most important thing each of us can learn is that all of God’s children have wisdom. I don’t care if it’s the leader of a street gang . . . or somebody running for the opposition party you think is dead wrong . . . or the neighbor who never seems to do anything interesting. If you take time to listen to yourself with respect . . . if you take time to listen to your brothers and sisters with respect . . . you will come to contain a lot more wisdom. Including awareness of your own.

Roger: We are not a culture of listeners.

Paula: I think we’re learning to be. There is an emphasis on story telling that’s not just to keep kids amused. With teaching about story comes a lot of teaching about the possibilities for listening. I have one final story.

I came home from Sunday School and my dad said, “What did you learn today?” “Oh Dad, we learned all about Moses and the Red Sea.” “You did, huh.” You want to tell me about that?” “You never heard about Moses and the Red Sea?” “Well, I never heard your version.” So I told him everything I could remember.

Then he said, “Our people have a story much like that only our Moses was a woman.”

“Oh Daddy, tell me about Moses was a woman.” “ I could sure do that Honeygirl, but it takes awhile so we’ll wait ‘til Saturday.”

“Is it Saturday?” “No, it’s Wednesday.” “Is it Saturday?” “No, it’s Friday.” “Is it Saturday?” “It’s Saturday” . . . “Now you get to tell me the story.”

“Well now Honeygirl . . . your mom’s been telling me about this leaking faucet in the kitchen. Don’t you think we ought to fix that first?” “Well yeah.” I’m in there trying to think of everything I can to hurry him up. Bit by bit he finally got the sink repaired. “Oh good, now you can tell me the story.”

“Well now Honeygirl . . . your Mom’s been telling me about the cracked plaster in the living room. Don’t you think we ought to fix that first?” “Well yeah.” He chipped away the plaster . . . put new plaster in the crack and then he had to go and paint it – I learned years later that you never paint wet plaster, but that wasn’t the lesson that day. “Daddy, are you done?” Can you tell me the story?” “Yeah, I can tell you the story.” “Oh good, Daddy’s going to tell me the story.”

I’m dancing around the room and my Dad said “Don’t see as I can tell a story to somebody bouncing around like that.” “Oh.” I sat down and gripped the arms of the chair . . . held as rigidly still as I could. My Dad said, “ My you look uncomfortable! How will you really listen if you are that uncomfortable?” “Oh.”

So I loosened up a little bit and he came over and peered in one ear, “Awful lot of thoughts running around in there, How will you really listen if all them thoughts are flying around?” “oh. I won’t think . . . I won’t think.” He looked in the other ear, “Awful lot of negativity flying around in there. Don’t know as I can tell a story to somebody with all that negativity flying around.”

“Oh. I can’t dance . . . can’t hold still . . . can’t think . . . can’t not think. I give up!”

“Ahh,” he said, “now you’re ready to listen.” When we truly listen to one another we empty ourselves and let someone else fill us. It’s like we’re thirsty and every word they say is a drop of water . . . or hungry and every word a little bit of food. It’s like that when we truly listen.