Tuesday, December 7th

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. ~ James 3:17-18 (NRSV)

Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. ~ Hebrews 12:14 (NRSV)

Hear one side and you will be in the dark. Hear both and all will be clear. ~ Lord Chesterfield

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. ~ Stephen R. Covey

Listen with ears of tolerance. ~ Rumi

I was having a disagreement with a family member, and we were texting our replies and rebuttals on our cell phones. When I read these text messages aloud to Jim, I realized that I was reading mine with the kindest, gentlest tone, while reading the other ones with the angriest, snarkiest tone! The way I was interpreting each text message revealed my lack of peaceful listening in that moment. I wonder just how often I have not listened with an open mind, but allowed my own disposition, biases, preconceptions, or experiences to influence how I have heard another’s words.

Listening is so much more than hearing words, isn’t it? Today’s Advent invitation is to foster greater peace in ourselves and for others, by being mindful of the way we receive and perceive the words we hear.

Keeping an open mind and spirit while listening does not mean we must receive every word as right or as truth. But we become more peaceful listeners if we can refrain from adding negativity to the message (more hurt, frustration, mean-spiritedness) or subtracting positivity from its intention (less credibility, wisdom, purity). Imagine that a message is being passed to us in a box. Before we even open the box, what might we be expecting or adding to the box that isn’t meant to be included? What might we believe the box will be missing – and so we won’t even seek – that the giver intends for us to receive?   

Today, may we open our ears (and hearts and minds) to listen well, clearly, and free from bias, to weigh and consider, and to seek the best intention in the words we hear.

Listen. Are you listening with a peaceful countenance, in the best spirit, for the clearest intention?

Prayer: Listening God, thank you for your readiness to hear every word, thought, and secret in my soul. Thank you for finding my genuine sincerity when my words falter, for uncovering my true intention when my words gloss over, for knowing my deep desire when my words fail. Open my ears and heart to listen more fully, clearly, and peacefully to you, to others, and to myself. Let me be your peaceful presence for others, seeking the truest and best intentions as I listen today. Amen.

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

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