We bring our own lunch to someone’s house; the hostess supplies water and a comfy place to sit. Each person shares what’s going on in her life; the rest of us listen. Perhaps we comment or ask a question, but whatever we say is an affirmation. Mainly we listen.
This feels like a new kind of community for me. When I taught I was in charge of the classroom community. As president of The Whole Language Teachers Association I set the agenda and controlled the discussion. My contribution to church committees has been to further a specific task or purpose. The back and forth in a one-on-one conversations encourages me to listen so I can respond specifically to what the other person has said.
The undefined rules and expectations of this group of friends feel different. I listen to hear what they say, full stop! To use another expression, I listen to ‘get’ what they say, to ‘get’ who they are. I’m just beginning to unravel what this means, but for a start, this kind of listening stop judgments before they begin, or at least doesn’t give them free reign.