Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Henri J.M. Nouwen - "Bread for the Journey" - "A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith" March 11

"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, statement, 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."

Blogging - is it all about writing, reading, or does it have a lot to do with listening? With bravado, we declare at one time or another - "I write for myself, I care not that anyone reads my words!" Rubbish!

Seriously, don't we all yearn to know others are not only reading our words but are listening to us? Listening to what makes us happy, to what makes us angry, sad, distraught, thrilled....How many times do we pour out our words feeling they are not worth reading and sure enough that feeling is validated - there is no comment - there is sometimes a statistical counter telling us someone has "stopped by" - but goodness, were our words so lukewarm, so boring, so inconsequential, so useless to the reader that they quickly clicked to the next blogsite with no trace?

To requote Mr. Nouwen - "True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept." I would agree with Henri except that even the best of listeners gives the writer or speaker a nod of reassurance from time to time - don't they?

The great writers of the world (and I suppose the worst writers) pour out their souls in books, journals, memoirs describing those years of rejection, those years of no one listening.....

Writing for oneself may be fulfilling but tell me now, honestly, how long will you continue to blog if absolutely no one leaves a comment, how long can you survive in internet space without affirmation of some kind from your silent audience? Really, how long?

Photo - Sunrise Sister


  1. A quick aside on the matter of listening: I once heard that a great actor (can't recall who) defined listening as the most important part of acting. An actor should not merely pretend to listen while waiting for the chance to say his own lines, but should really listen in order to bring the play to life.
    As for blogging, yes of course it's good to know by the comments that people are listening, and I'm always grateful when people do comment. Often its the posts that I dash off quickly that get more comments than things I've put a lot of effort into, which is interesting.
    To me though, the best thing of all is feeling that we're all part of an ongoing conversation that we can pick up and put down at our own blogs and those we read. I love that element of blogging - I guess you'd call it the mutuality.

  2. You're right. The 0 Comments at the bottom of the entry, over and over again, is disheartening. That's why I blog more often at my other site where I have a regular group of readers.

    As for listening, it's a rarely practiced skill that needs more emphasis, other than the parental query, "Are you listening to me?"

  3. Tess, I so agree that the mutuality is an added plus to the dimension of our lives - one possibly unexpected when first blogging. The actor comment is also very intriguing. Not hard to understand as how much richer is a conversation or interchange of any kind when all parties are truly listening. Thanks as always for your thoughtful input.

    Wren, The other site you write on has resisted my attention for some reason. I believe I found I needed to "join" the site?? Please drop me the URL again though as I want to see more of your writing.

    And for all of you silent listeners....I so appreciate your presence on the site from time to time. I do know you are there. Please comment when you feel comfortable doing so. Anonymous works well for lots of folks:)

  4. Listening is indeed a challenge for many of us. It has healing power for the listener and the one who receives the gift of being heard.

    One of my paths toward more powerful listening and healing started with Naomi Remen's conversation on "Listening Generously."


  5. Dear Geezer - so glad to see your name and to read your thoughtful comment. I look forward to connecting with the link you left!

  6. thought provoking post.
    i have to say i find it equally disheartening to think no one reads my blog, as i worry about the fact that some people do!
    on one hand it's not being validated. not being heard. on the other it is fear of judgement. of ridicule.
    i am however learning (trying) to release expectation on both counts... but given a choice... of course those kind sweet comments spur me on!

  7. Well, you pretty much summed up a lot of bloggers' feelings here in your comment. We want to be heard but fear sounding dumb, too mushy, too hard nosed, too bossy, too whatever!

    I've been just barreling through these feelings for myself and some days I feel great about clicking on the post button and somedays I think, well, sooooo - it's o.k.

    I've just passed my first blogging anniversary date. The first six months were very spare in posts. I feel more comfortable the more I participate.

    Lots of readers use blog readers these days and don't bother going back to the site to comment. I feel as a blogger myself, I may see the comment on a blog reader but for me it's important to let the blogger know I'm reading.

    Thanks for your comments.

  8. i love this "conversation" many of my own thoughts and fears represented here!

    i was thinking about this the other day and it reminded me of christmas cards and how if we don't send a christmas card one year or maybe two, we are very likely "dropped" from the other person's list. we love to be seen and we love to be heard.

    perhaps to be seen, we must see. to be heard, we must listen. to receive comments, we must offer comments...

    i love the way your mind reminds me so much of someone i know well :-) xoxoxooxoxo

  9. Lucy - so glad to receive your comments on this post. I so agree with your to be seen, we must see, etc. That is why I feel such a draw to leave the blogreader ease and comment on the blogger's site whenever I can.