November 22, 2013

Listening and Blessings

Two reflections from this week:

1. Listen to understand:
I heard a colleague talk about the importance of listening. There wasn't really anything new about that, except he went on to say, "Listen to understand, not to refute or resolve." The more, I thought about this, the more brilliant I realized this was. How often do we either not really listen to the other person? And when we do listen at all, aren't we most of the time jumping to either refute what they are saying or resolve their issue? The key though is to listen to understand. Ask questions. Get clarifications. Only once you really listen to the other person and understand what they are saying, can you begin to address the thoughts and feeling they are expressing to you.

2. G-d Blessed You:
Usually when I see people asking for help/money on the streets, they have signs--handwritten, often on cardboard or the like--that says something about their plight. Perhaps, they are homeless, lost their job, ill or disabled, have kids to support...and they are asking for your help and mercy. At the end of the sign or if you give them some change or a few dollars, they say thanks, but also "G-d bless you" in the future tense. And this is really nice to get a blessing in return for some basic charity and kindness. However, there is one poor person begging in downtown D.C., and he says it differently. His sign asks for help and says, "G-d blessed you" in the past-present tense. First, I thought maybe this was just a grammatical mistake, but then I realized what he was saying. G-d blessed you, so please give back to others. This wasn't a thank you wish to the other person, but rather a reason that you should give to begin with. Recognize how fortunate you are (and maybe you don't even necessarily deserve it), but G-d blessed you, so have mercy and give to others. 

Hope these reflections mean something to you the way they do to me, and have a good weekend everyone!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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