the art of listening

today i had lunch with a dear friend who has always meant a lot to me.  her husband was my husband’s mentor/father who he wished he had had.  this husband and wife team are truly an inspiration.  they have such a loving and kind relationship.  as i sat there listening to her share her love of her daughter and their grandchild, i could feel my heart growing.  i could hear her unconditional, overwhelming love for her family.  it was simple and beautiful.

my friend’s ability to listen is remarkable.  both she and her husband have the gift of listening, and to be around them is so refreshing and reassuring.  i always walk away feeling like they cared, genuinely had concern, and wanted to be there for me.  she sat across the table, and listened with her eyes, ears, and heart.  she didn’t miss a beat.  i thought to myself, the relationship she has with her 40 year old daughter is precious.  it’s the kind of relationship i hope i will always have with my children, my husband, parents and friends.  she doesn’t put any expectations on her daughter, and she’s always there to help in any way possible.  more than anything, she didn’t judge.  she talked about how her daughter was raising her little girl, how it was different from what she had done, but she didn’t judge or criticize or make remarks that in any way implied that she knew better than her daughter.

the joy that fills me when i’m around people who listen with the heart, overwhelms me.  i am often moved to tears.

sometimes when someone is sharing something close to the heart, something that is painful or truthful, sometimes they just want someone to be there to listen with no judgement or advice.  sometimes they just want to have you hold their hand and say, ‘i hear you,’ or sometimes they just want a hug.

next time i see her, i’m going to make the effort to pick up the phone and connect…i’m not waiting for her annual holiday party.  time is precious, and so is she.

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