What Does It Mean to Be a People of Deep Listening?

This is a question we will explore in worship, faith development activities, and covenant groups this month. Whose voices gain our attention?

How do we respond to voices of sorrow, or anger, or hate? When has it made a transformative difference because someone listened deeply to us? I have learned so much about deep listening in my years here at this church. My first lesson was in the power of being heard, as people here listened to my story, and even invited me to share a reflection from the pulpit. (Look where THAT led! To seminary and beyond!) Next, John W and his merry band of deliberate listeners encouraged the congregation to learn together about nonviolent communication so that we could better navigate conflict within our community. Sarah-Elizabeth A. caught that spark and found a passion for restorative circles, a formal process of deep listening when relationships have been damaged by conflict. I have been inspired by Michael’s journey into a deep spiritual practice of meditation that helps him listen to his own body’s wisdom. I honor all of you, named here and not, who help our congregation be intentional about listening deeply to ourselves and others.

What does it mean not just to be a person of deep listening – an individual who listens skillfully – but to be “A People” of deep listening? I think about our collective responses as a congregation to the people in our community. We are listening for the voices of people who are homeless, and respond as supporters of the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness and Family Promise. We are listening to the experiences of refugees and immigrants as they make new lives for themselves as our neighbors. We are listening to the voices of people of color as they ask us to affirm that Black Lives Matter, and the voices of people who feel threatened by that
message.

I feel lucky to have a front row seat as our Board of Trustees works to listen deeply to you, the members and friends of this congregation, as they discern anew what we are called to be and to do as a church community in these extraordinary times. The Operations Leadership Team had a deep conversation about accessibility, and who we include or exclude by the day to day operations of the church and the accessibility of our physical and virtual spaces. The Pandemic Policy Team is doing complicated work sorting out which voices should guide us in reopening our physical campus, in a time when the science of public health has been politicized. I am so grateful to all of these leaders in our congregation for their deep listening and discernment.

And I am grateful for YOU, listening, and I hope to be able to return the blessing as we delve into this powerful question together. Happy October!

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