31 Days of Aging Gracefully: Day 9 — Listening Well


This recently finished new space is where I do my professional listening these days. I am graced with the title ‘spiritual director,’ something I began to train for during the last year of my pastoral life, continuing for two years afterwards in order to earn my certification. I’ve been listening to directees (and listening to God, I sincerely hope) for six years now, some of them for that entire time. It is one of the best gifts in my life right now.

When I’m sitting in my chair (the one on the right), I listen well. I’ve learned how, I’ve practiced and I’m getting better at it each time I do it. 

It has not always been so. In fact, in my regular life, it often still is NOT so. I had a dear and trusted friend tell me once that she felt I was always scanning the room, looking for someone more interesting to talk to whenever we engaged in one-on-one conversation.


That one hurt. But you know what? She was right. I began to observe myself after that comment, and her remark was spot on. Embarrassingly spot on. I was not scanning the room, looking for someone more interesting — that part, I categorically deny. I was, however, easily distracted, uncomfortable making prolonged eye contact and very busy inside my head, planning what I was going to say next. Or making a list of questions to interrupt with. Or thinking about something entirely different.

Oy vey.

So I have worked on that over these years, these later years. Without the ‘cover’ of the direction session, I am still more easily distracted than I wish I were. Part of the problem — at least in my own home, with my husband, in particular — is that I learned to read with ferocious focus when I was quite young, effectively tuning out any noise or music in my home. I have carried that with me to this day. So if I’m looking at email or texts and he says something to me, I literally do not hear him. We’re both trying to be more cognizant of the truth that we must keep on learning how to communicate well with one other.

We need to learn when to talk. And most importantly, we need to learn when to listen.

Really listen.

What about you? Are you a good listener?

Just Wondering

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  1. I’m a better listener than I used to be, but I also have the ability that you have to tune things out when I’m focused on reading (I was an avid childhood reader, too!). While it can be a great gift, especially when I am trying to write my blog and there are other distractions around, I often don’t hear Danny when he says something to me. 🙁 I think we can all use a little work in listening better!
    Blessings, Diana!

  2. I was reading the parable of the sower this week, studying the text. The path, the rocky ground, the thorny place, the good soil were the hearers. We have to be careful how we hear, do we not? I’m, of course, referring to myself. How I relate to distraction and I need to learn to listen better, to be present with God and others. It’s part of the transformation of our lives. How I hope I get there in this lifetime.

    Such a great series, Diana. Thanks so much for telling on yourself! Ha! I mean that in the very kindest of ways. 🙂

    • I’m quite happy to tell on myself – that’s the point of this entire exercise, I think — at least partially. Thanks for reading and encouraging, dear Dea.

  3. That’s one discipline I have been working on my whole life in one way or another – holding my tongue, not interrupting, listening well. I think that could be a whole 31 Day topic all on its own. I’m like you when I read Diana. I sometimes look up and wonder where I am – I’ve been so immersed in the story.
    You’re doing a wonderful job with this series. I’m thoroughly enjoying every single post.

    • So glad you’re enjoying these posts, Linda – I’m enjoying whatever I get from your blog, too – but can’t find a way to leave a comment to tell you so! LOVED that quote for the weekend. Saved it to my large document of favorite quotes, as a matter of fact. Thank you for it!

  4. Thanks for sharing that before/after experience. Sometimes we need that input to raise awareness so we can see our weaknesses. Look how it has now become one of your greatest strengths, a core skill for your calling as a spiritual director (and as a writer)!

  5. You know what I love, Diana? That there are 31 days in October and hence, the 31 Day project–i.e. one post per day. And you’re on Day 9…..taking it slow and easy and awesome.

    Way to be graceful.

    Way to be full of grace.

    Your words make me smile.