To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept. Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond.
Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings.
The beauty of listening is that those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their true selves.
Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.
--Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey, reading for March 11.