The Beauty of Listening

More often than ever before young people ask me, “What is the most beautiful thing in your life?”  Without hesitating I reply:

  •  first of all the common prayer, and in it, the long periods of silence.

Then, immediately after that, the most beautiful thing in my life is this:

  • when I am talking with someone alone, to perceive the whole human being, marked by a tragedy or by being torn apart within, and at the same time by the irreplaceable gifts through which the life of God in that person is able to bring everything to fulfillment.

It is essential to try to comprehend the whole person… It is not enough simply to share what assaults a person within.  It is even more vital to search for that special gift of God, the pivot of their whole existence.  Once this gift (or gifts) has been brought to light, roads forward lie open.

Gift of Tears

A relative of Ryokan asked the monk to speak to his wayward son.  Ryokan came to visit the family home but did not say a word of admonition to the boy.  He stayed the night and prepared to leave the following morning.  As the wayward boy was helping tie Ryokan’s straw sandals, he felt the warm drop of water on his shoulder.  Glancing up, the boy saw Ryokan, eyes full of tears, looking down on him.  Ryokan departed silently, and the boy soon mended his ways.

Mary Lou Kownacki, Between Two Souls