Saturday, May 7, 2011
Better Speech and Hearing
However, I long ago promised myself that I would never write that archetypal blog entry on why I'm not blogging, so here is something besides drowning in my own overcommitment I've been thinking about lately: listening. And what is making me think of listening, you ask? It's not music, or silence, or any of the easy answers. No, it's the church newsletter from my husband's church.
God, I love church newsletters! And by God, I mean that-entity-which-may-or-may-not-exist-and-is-in-any-case-totally-eclipsed-by-the-awesomeness-of-the-newsletter. Church newsletters are overflowing with the kind of self-important non-information I adore. They are officious, official, and deeply concerned with trivia. They edge out -barely- free coffee as the apex of the non-believer's church experience.
So when I see them, I pounce. Teeth bared, arms akimbo, the better to outmaneuver all those wily Episcopalians in walkers. That newsletter is MINE!
Too bad about the legitimately thoughtful article, though, written by a parishoner who doubles as an English professor. He was discussing the volunteer work he does leading writing workshops with incarcerated men. There was a lot of God stuff, but this bit jumped out at me:
"Dave, our writings are alright," one of the men from the first workshop, Kelvin, told me. "But it's your curiosity about our lives that really makes it interesting."
And there, for me, is the crux of it, the secret that underlies all the writing workshops, the art therapy, the championing of creativity as a tool for healing. It's not the writing or the painting or the yodeling: it's the listening. Some of us write just to write, it's true. There are people who paint in secret, and I practice day after day for the ants. But for most people, the power of the listener -one engaged, active, and interested listener- is formidable.
Speak out, the proverb goes. Speak your mind. Say your piece. If you see something, say something. Shout it out.
And that's all well and good. But if you really want to make a difference, listen up.