By Donna Toliver Grimes
“When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” ~Luke 2:17-19
We live in a world full of words, though most of them are meaningless. In the presence of advertising hype, subliminal messages, sound bites spun in any and every direction and a culture of communication comprised of large doses of profanity and superficiality, miscommunication is the standard. Add to this the natural awkwardness of human relations and the damaging effects of sin and we simply drown in words.
Yet human beings need words to survive. Perhaps we begin by checking the words we say to ourselves about ourselves. Is our self-talk nurturing, uplifting and honest? Do we use words that heal our brokenness? Are the words we select as we talk to ourselves capable of carrying us to deeper levels of truth and value?
Then, what are the words we truly need to say to one another for the sake of honesty and real love? How do regular folks initiate and sustain difficult but vital conversations about that which is in our hear-of-hearts, our truest feelings, values, aspirations, and fears? Equally if not more important though is the question of how we can hear one another. What does it mean to converse in the spirit of authentic dialogue?
We know well how to debate, less so how to converse. We are skilled at following the bouncing ball until we can grab it for ourselves. So, how do we learn to play together in peace?
Reflection and action:
- Begin to regularly bless and intercede for others in prayer. It is difficult to dislike or be indifferent to someone for whom you are praying.
- Practice listening for understanding when others are speaking. For example, try holding back on relaying your connections to what is being said or contributing a similar story from your own experience. Ask questions that help the speaker communicate a message more fully.
This reflection is from Tell Them About the Times When Jesus Came: Reflections for Advent 2005. Donna Toliver Grimes is a former member of the Pax Christi USA National Council and the Assistant Director of African American Affairs at the USCCB.