“He (the Lord) inclines his ear to me” Ps 114:2. Let us contemplate God who bends his ear to us in order to listen to us more closely. There is more to this than the expression “incline your ear”, which already expresses well all the attention that we can pay when we listen. God, the Most High, the Mighty One, the Father in heaven, bends down to come close to us to listen to us.
Listening: a biblical attitude
Listening is present in the Bible on many occasions and what it says can guide us in our own listening. This has been the case for me in my life situations, family, social, associative, friendly and of course, professional when I practiced my profession as a psychiatrist-psychotherapist.
Listening in the Old Testament
- “LISTEN, O Israel! these verses, the faithful Jew says morning and evening to open his prayer and inscribe his life in the love of God. The same one whom “you shall love with all your heart, with all your being and with all your intensity” ( Shuraki translation).
- Samuel, I, 3, 4-10: God’s nightly call to Samuel, which the priest Eli deciphers for the child as to the meaning of this call and the response to be given: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”.
Listening in the New Testament
We see Jesus all along his earthly journey listening to the cries and words emerging from the crowd that gathered around him, the disciples sometimes drawing his attention to these calls. Mary, at his feet, chose to listen during the meal with her and Martha.
By meditating on the above, on the words used, each of us can approach different dimensions of listening.
Letting ourselves be reached
Based on my own experience, I can say that listening places us in love, in service to the other, in a process of attentive availability when we want to really listen.
Listening implies putting our superficial self at a distance, centring ourselves on our deepest self in order to become entirely available to the other, without reducing what he or she says to our own situation, but becoming aware of the place in our person where what is expressed joins us, brings us closer to or distances us from this other in an uninterrupted movement.
At what inner distance do we place ourselves in order to hear it in truth? In proximity, in distance? It is sometimes necessary to distance ourselves psychologically if what the other person says is too difficult to listen to or is unbearable for us, and in this case to try to listen again in a different way.
Rereading and analysing
In this process, rereading is necessary in order to analyse what we experience in listening, to correct our way of listening, to continue it if it is appropriate or to modify it if we do not feel we have the right attitude, and to give a new impetus.
Listening to help the other person
Professionally or simply in a relationship, our attitude can help the other person to listen to him or herself and to what he or she is expressing, so that he or she can take the necessary distance to truly access his or her own words, which will allow him or her to evolve on his or her own personal life path.
Let us not forget that education is also listening.
Every human being, even those who are very damaged in their psyche and/or in their material life, has something to tell us about their own humanity and the divine spark within them. Let our two sparks come together.
Asking for help in order to calm down
Situations of violence can arise when we listen, but should always be approached in a different way with the intervention of a third party. Above all, we must not hesitate to seek help to first contain this violence, and then to find calmer words, in our common humanity in an encounter situation.
Let us lean towards each other to listen better.