Christian psychotherapist Robin Daniels died 5 year ago. They said when you talked with him he made you feel you were the star player. His practical wisdom is distilled into 200 pages of a book just published called Listening - hearing the heart.
It’s a great witness to the transformative power of listening. Reading it made me feel if I could engage with just a couple of his many insights I’d significantly counter my failures as a listener.
Daniels quotes Metropolitan Anthony Bloom: ‘Every meeting is a judgement, is crisis, is a situation in which we are called either to receive Christ, or to be Christ’s messenger to the other person [or both]. If only we realised that the whole of life has this intensity of meaning’.
If only we realised - indeed! People yearn to be listened to, and Christians so often fail to be Christ to their neighbour in this way. Among the qualities of a skilled listener is ‘a lack of mental chatter and a temporary detachment from one’s own concerns’ which can be seen as the self-emptying work of the Holy Spirit. Being comfortable with silence is another gift and the book has much wisdom about how we defy the assault on silence in the noisy, distracting world we inhabit.
To quote Robin Daniels, inner ‘silence brings harmony, and from harmony comes a new sense of proportion, more self-knowing, as well as more awareness of the deeper aspects of other people’.
Lord, lead us into such depths. Make us better listeners - starting today!