As people we are created to love and to be loved. We are created to know and to be known. So what does that look like? Well, part of it looks like learning to listen to others share their stories. Sadly, it seems we have forgotten how to listen. Listening is more than just being present. It is more than hearing words and taking in information. Listening runs deeper. It requires presence and concentration. It requires letting go of the million other things that threaten to occupy our mind. Listening is an art to be learned. People often remarked after being in the presence of Mother Theresa that they were overwhelmed by her fullness of presence as she listened to them and asked questions. This incredible woman with more things to do than she could ever hope to accomplish mastered the art of being still and listening to those around her. In doing so, she empowered them. She made them feel important and valued. She looked them in the eyes and through her silence she loved them.
The best storytellers are those who have first learned to listen. They are the ones who see the unspoken words that are told in the twitch of an eyebrow and hear the quiet whispers of the soul. Too often we are so focused on the extreme that we miss out on the simple beauty of the ordinary. We forget that there can be majesty even in the midst of the mundane. We are so captivated by stars and imaginary movie characters that we forget to revel in the richness of the reality in which we live day in and day out. If we only had ears to hear we would understand that the ordinary people waking and walking around us are in their own rights extraordinary. They have stories of triumph and sorrows to share. They are and always will be extraordinary; the question is whether or not you will take the time to see their true identity. Will you look beyond the plain clothes and ordinary job to the person wait underneath to be discovered; the person who is broken and beautiful. Will you learn to linger and to ask questions? Will you hear the stuttering stories of those around you and allow them to capture your imagination? Will you weep with the wounded and laugh with the joyous? Be the kind of listener that you wish you had. Be the kind of listener who puts people first. Learn to listen, and as you do so you will learn to become a story teller, but first you must learn to listen.