The Power of Listening

By Drissa Kone

Listening to someone in pain is the most valuable gift we can offer to heal a broken relationship. We may know that forgiving is a valuable thing to do, but most people do not know how to forgive someone who hurt them.

Choosing to listen to the pain of another helps us to be in touch with our true self, which indeed is not so different from the other person. When the connection is made through listening, healing and forgiveness happen. The powerful principle of listening is it creates space for understanding others and pursuing a deeper human connection.

The need to be understood and accepted is a universal psychological need for all people, and it can be done powerfully through listening. By listening, a broken relationship can be healed and opposing views united.

I have experienced these moments with people close to me. Several times my wife would scold me for not doing what she asked. Often, I tried to defend and protect myself and justify my behavior. However, those psychological defense mechanisms have their limits.

According to Richard Salem, empathic listening is a way of listening and responding to another that improves mutual understanding and trust. When we are attacked, we tend to react and defend, but when we can pause and listen to the deeper concern of the person attacking us, healing and understanding happen right away.

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A Street Filled With Spirits of the Long-Term Dead

By Larry Moffitt

It’s morning rush in the spirit-filled streets of Seoul, at the corner of overpriced hotel and shoe repair guy. In the corner coffee shop the cup is held close in both hands, fingers of hot, steamed aroma gently massage my face. I pause to solemnize the moment before taking the first sip. No other taste of coffee the rest of that day will be its equal. My early-hour grogginess and that very first slurp run toward each other in slow motion across a meadow, jump into each other’s arms and tumble as one into the waving wheat as the violins reach a crescendo.

People who want to live to be a hundred and ten never eat chocolate-filled croissants, but I heard on the bedside radio that today is National Self-Sabotage Day. I’m always good for a holiday. People have written whole chapters in cookbooks about the natural harmony of coffee and chocolate. You would instantly trust the intentions of a country that had a steaming cup of hot coffee and a chocolate-filled croissant on its national flag. That would be a nation that knows peace.

At a back table of the coffee shop by the window, my attention is drawn to something unusual outside and I briefly touch the glass because I want to assure myself that at least something, the window, is tangible and real. I am watching spirits plod along. Spirits usually know they have died when they naturally cross over. These folks I am watching may not have gotten the memo. They appear to be earthbound spirits, marooned between here and there, and for about twenty seconds I can see them. There are hundreds of them walking along, still going to work, as they must have done for decades during their lives.

They look less distinct to me than the living. They are dull and slightly faded. The living walking past the window, and the dead, pass among and through each other without noticing. As a group, the spirits look less hopeful or expectant than the living commuters. The spirits look as though they have exhausted their to-do lists. There is nothing new to accomplish, no new appointments or meetings, no calls left to return. Not a one of them looks content. A few are obviously anxious. Perhaps they know something is amiss, but what?

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Excuse My Religion While It Slips into Something More Comfortable

By Larry Moffitt

I was speaking with the minister of a very large Christian church in Houston. We were in his office discussing the enigmatic lightning rod personality that is Reverend Moon, who was still living and quite active. He asked me by whose authority was Reverend Moon ordained a minister? A legitimate question. I replied, “Jesus spoke to him on Easter morning in 1935 when he was fifteen, and gave him his mission. So I guess that was his ordination.”

The minister’s back stiffened. He glared, making fists in his pockets. “Jesus did not speak to Reverend Moon!”

“I see,” I said. “I have to wonder how you could possibly know that.” I spoke evenly and without a hint of disrespect. If it’s audacious for me to believe that Jesus actually spoke to him, isn’t it also audacious for someone living on this side of the veil to be confident about what Jesus does to fill his time on the other side? Does he putter in the garden? Write music? Continue to guide people’s spiritual lives? I should have followed up with these questions because at least he knew what Jesus does not do: He does not speak to people.

“Well, God also spoke to him,” I added helpfully.

Surely this would clinch it because God has gone on the public record many times. I mentioned as examples, Noah, Moses and John the Baptist, in whose honor this minister’s church was named. It’s well-documented phenomena, so surely it would be easy for him to accept that God can speak to people if he wants to. But alas…

“God doesn’t do that anymore,” he said, slamming the door on the conversation.

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