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“Only connect,” wrote E. M. Forster. How to be connected in a world that seems to be pushing all of us toward disconnection with stress, information overload, long work hours, and the breakdown of community social structures that no longer function? In the past, most new acquaintances would be introduced by a friend or close connection so that you knew something about that person and his or her background.

Connection makes life rich. To have happy and nurturing connections is to live a life of joy and fulfillment. Easily said, but sometimes difficult to do. One of the best ways to connect with someone is to listen. Listen with all the resources at your disposal.

That means not interrupting. Paying good attention (not reading the newspaper or playing video games), giving eye contact and “squaring off,” facing another person directly, not looking over your shoulder. You might want to draw the other person out by asking “Is there more?” or “Can you tell me more about that?”

When Frank and I met 16 years ago, one of the first and most important things I noticed about him was how intently and acceptingly he listened to me with his whole being. He mirrored my feelings on his face and provided a comfortable “container” for me to open up and be myself. It was a wonderful, comfortable feeling.

When someone is angry with you, good listening alone can often restore the peace. Just hear the person out. Let them express their feelings freely. Wait. Let the anger dissipate. Only then do you say what you want to say. Give them several chances to get the anger out until it’s exhausted.

And the same with someone who is upset or anxious. Listening is a healing balm. Often that’s the main thing someone wants from you. A good listening.

I grew up with an extended family who all listened to me, and I am privileged to be able to listen to my sister, Charla, as she inspires me by walking courageously and confidently through her cancer testing and treatment. She has granted me the boon of phoning in updates as soon as she gets any new piece of information. Consults, second opinions. Waiting for a surgery date.

It’s the least I can do for her, or perhaps one of the most important things.

To live in a world of connectedness is to live in a world of friendship and love. As theologian Paul Tillich wrote, “The first duty of love is to listen.”


1 Alex at { 09.29.08 at 4:13 am }

I just came across your blog and your posts speak to me on a deep and meaningful level. I totally agree with what you’ve said here, it’s unfortunate these simple truths are often lost in our world.

Best wishes
– Alex

Alex at SpiritualBlog.coms last blog post..Top Posts from June to Sep 08

2 jeannette { 06.04.11 at 5:55 pm }

What you wrote was true to heart and you say it all the right way thank you so much

3 Ellen Moore { 06.08.11 at 5:27 pm }

Thank you for the kind words, Jeanette. As Tillich wrote: “The first duty of love is to listen.” The blog is under construction (and so am I)! Stay tuned for similar posts, and look for the picture of the sea shell to reappear.


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