However, yesterday took me away from home early and for hours running errands. I was tired as I drove home but when the cell phone rang and it was Christopher, asking if I wanted to meet him for lunch... I immediately said yes! He had finished his exam and a lunch break was just what the doctor ordered. Thankfully, I was just on the outskirts of town where I could easily turn around and head for the heart of campus.
I must stick to a tight budget but there are days when "lunch out" to listen to a loved one... mixed with spending time which could be used elsewhere but most needed here... is the best use of resources. Stephanie and I can practically communicate through our thoughts, we think so much alike. Christopher, on the other hand, is much like me in that we enjoy comfortable silence as well as good conversation.
Both were observed as I enjoyed a vegetarian Pad Thai and he literally inhaled pasta. First there was shared silence as he was mentally retaking the brutal exam and my thoughts were scattered... mainly on what needed to be accomplished at home. Then as good food brought... as my father-in-law would often say... the life back to our bones... we were ready to talk and listen and whine (it was a terrible exam) and commiserate as we both were experiencing sinus pressure. But mostly I listened.
My husband often bemoans the fact that when the kids (both grown up, of course) call home they usually want to talk to me. I've tried to explain to him... usually of no avail... that it is because I listen. They call him for advice but to talk... it's Mom.
I learned long ago in my former life in Human Resources and Organization Development that a whole lot can be accomplished by just listening. Most people know the answers to their problems... they just need someone to talk to. Of course, I'm the type of mother who thinks my children are just about the smartest, most creative, amazing people on the planet... so I love to listen to them. ;)
Listening is something we can all do, it just requires time and attention. Even the bedridden can have a listening ministry. Grandmothers and grandfathers can listen. A job loss can affect us financially but a blessing in disguise is when it gives one more time to listen.
Sometimes listening is done best as two or more work together such as washing dishes or dusting furniture or sewing or gardening or any such activity which is conducive to sharing thoughts without eye contact... especially for chats where feelings can be hurt or the subject is rather uncomfortable.
There are those occasions when reading the same book or watching a movie makes for an opportunity to listen to another... after the reading and the watching have occurred. Francis Schaeffer often talked about the importance of reading and watching what is most important in the culture right now (not that which is defiling, of course) to provide a shared basis to discuss... and to listen.
In our family, some of the best talking and listening has taken place at a restaurant or coffee shop. Especially when the desire was one on one conversation. Then there is the listening a mother becomes quite adept at as the older child arrives home late in the evening and a cup of tea and perhaps a snack is made ready as the events of the day are shared by lamplight.
I plan to stay home today. Rain is beating against the window and there is laundry to be done and meals prepared and dishes washed and perhaps some baking to... all done a little at a time with limited energy... last night's book awaiting with the bookmark reminding where the reading stopped as the eyes grew weary and ready to sleep. My inner Hobbit is home.