conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

Listening has an Ugly Step-Sister: Waiting

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Surprise: She Has a Lot to Say

The problem with listening has always been the other person talking. When will they stop talking so I can talk about myself and my interests? You know—the important stuff.

And so we wait.


Turns out there are lots of opportunities to wait in life. Beyond waiting for our turn to talk or the sheets to dry, there are lines at the grocer, lines for on-ramps, waiting for Netflix to load, waiting to get a job/spouse/house/liver/reprieve/break/two-bedroom spot in the nursing home.

What we do while we wait—that’s key. Some say stay busy. Some say pray (seems a good strategy to me). Some say stay curious. Some say pursue your passion.

And then there is listening

Listening while you wait.


Deep in the spinning cogs and meshed gear-works of waiting there is a mechanism that also tunes interest. If I listen intently I may just see my desire shift ever so slightly. I scraped and saved for years for a new car but when I had the money, I realized desire shifted: I didn’t want to spend it on the new car. A used car does fine, and I’ll spend that savings for the other thing that became important in the meantime.

Is this partly how prayer works: deep desire and constant asking followed by shifts in desire and asking that turns to listening?

When we wait we are ripe for deep listening.

What are you hearing while you wait?



Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

April 28, 2014 at 9:36 am

One Response

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  1. […] Waiting, without a screen or a book, can sometimes accomplish what you’ve repeatedly failed at. To step away from engagement—or its tiresome cousin, distraction—is to take your brain pan off the fire for a moment. All the whirring bits and quarter-thoughts collect and congeal and answers form. Not always. But often enough to make me eager for a bit of waiting nearly every day. […]

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