Making Space for Listening


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Lately I’ve been settling into routine and intentionally making space for my introversion. In seminary I took the Myers-Briggs and was told that I was confused. How could I sit so stalwartly in the middle of the E and I? There must be something wrong, something unhealed. I shrugged my shoulders and looked at the other “confused” student. He looked back at me, squinted his brown eyes and then the whole group went .


Writing sets me back into this confusion. In order to write, I must be still, to sit, listen, and pay attention to the small details of life which blur as we speed by. I must remove myself from the crash of the world.




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bells church

137I love Roger Houdsen’s poem collections: 10 Poems to Change your Life, 10 Poems to Set You Free, 10 Poems to Open your Heart, etc. I’ve been living with Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime. It’s Naomi Shahib Nye’s poem, The Art of Disappearing, that won’t let me go. Entirely anti-social, this poem is at first embarrassing for this good little Christian girl. I read it aloud a few times before I began to rub away the grime of aggression from her desire for isolation and start to see the gift.


It’s this phrase that sits on repeat:

It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.


This is the fight. I need quiet to remember “something that is too important to forget.”


I hear life thrumming most clearly in the stillness but often don’t give myself permission to live in wide open spaces. I am a good news teller but often don’t hear the good news myself until I have ample space to listen.


Every season is different. In the summer between high school and college, I took different trails at the Gorham Nature Center, spread a red tartan blanket under the trees and took in the slow sentences of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s, A Gift from the Sea. She rolled up the carpets in her shell of a seaside cottage and let the hours spread out empty until the solitude would breed a new creativity.

In the years between college and seminary, I stewed, frustrated for life to start. Andrew was busy editing short philosophic essays for his Calvin professors and I browsed Schuler’s Books and Music’s book club picks after work editing architectural proposals. I was horrible at waiting. Henri Nouwen’s Reaching Out taught me to sit with the loneliness and longing and wait, listen, expect.


Through the early baby years, exhausted with the three blond heads who pulled on my pant legs and required me to ride a constant emotional roller coaster, I practiced Sabbath. Once a week I paid a babysitter to let me stare at the walls of a coffee shop until I recovered a sense of gratitude.


“So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns.”Susan Cain Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World that Won’t Stop Talking.


Your art, strength, relationships, and even the Word the Lord is sending out all depend upon it.


How do you wrestle with the needs of your personality and the tangle of your present circumstances? How do you create space?

Blogging in community with Laura at The Wellspring and counting gifts with Ann:

A Holy Experience

Counting thanks…with Madeline version:

1. That Summer is coming to Aunti’s house. We hope to see her while our car is getting fixed. 2. Mommy is going to read BALLET SHOES to me 3.Were at Aunti’s house.

Mom’s version: 1. the ugly beautiful: a car has stalled our plans and we are awaiting the dealership’s price tag. 2. My sister Stephanie’s house church, Watershed, full of thinkers and prayer warriors. I was blessed, so blessed. thank you. 3. Peanut butter and apples, a scavenger’s lunch. 4. The promise of France in August. Can it really be? Dreaming of farmer’s markets, pain au chocolat, photos in sunflower fields…and of course, Josh and Militza’s wedding. 5. Invitation to high tea. 6. Making breakfast for my sister and sending her out the door. 7. Ballet shoes and hours to read to this precious girl.

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