Do you have a listening hospitality?

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There is an inherent interconnectedness that exists within the context of all human relationships. Whether we feel as if we are affirming an existing connection, and/or seeming to co-create a connection for the first time, it can be the source of great joy. It is truly us at our best. Take a moment to reflect on what those experiences have been for you. Was it falling in love? Was it reconnecting with a person you had not spoken to for many years? Was it holding a newborn for the first time? Was it enjoying the beauty of nature? Whatever comes to mind for you, focus on the relationship, and appreciate how the sense of connection creates a feeling of awe and a sense of wonder.

My professional career has been dominated by helping others to navigate this inherent interconnectedness in their lives. It is amazing to be a witness to both the pain of disconnection and the joy of connection with so many folks over the years. I would estimate that I have had the honor of having tens of thousands of conversations with people over my lifetime. What I have observed is that each and every conversation is an opportunity to feel either more, or less connected, and that is true for both of us.

An essential element for whether we have felt more connected, is whether I have created a listening space for the other person. I like to refer to it as a “listening hospitality”. Quite simply, have I made room in my heart and mind for the other to feel at home in our connection/conversation? When I have not, the conversation is limited to being transactional. When I have, it can be transformational – for both of us.

A few years ago, a priest friend of mine was dying of cancer. I was fortunate that I was one of the first to know. I just happened to call him right after his doctor visit. He made a simple request when I asked if there was anything I could do. He asked me to keep on calling him every week. I did so until one day his brother answered the phone, instead of him. He had not died but was unable to speak. When I started to introduce myself to his brother, he interrupted me by letting me know everything he knew about me and my life through the conversations he had with his brother. And I thought I had been doing the listening. It was deeply touching and transformational for me.

Being in the midst of the holiday season, I invite you to see how you might create a “listening hospitality” for others and how that act can affirm the interconnectedness of us all. I am grateful to all who have invited me into their sacred space of connection that creates a feeling of awe and a sense of wonder for me, no matter what season it may be. I hope our paths allow us to connect/reconnect soon.