We are really a mess down here sometimes. Life is so complicated and hard, relationships so often heartbreaking. I can’t solve my own stuff, much less anybody else’s. I’m thinking especially of a couple of friends I was with, separately, this weekend, how shattered they both are, how much they are hurting, how trapped and helpless they feel. It’s like the sadness and pain of the world just settles down on the earth like some monstrous dinosaur, digs its feet in, and smothers the life out of people.
I don’t know how to help with any of it, except to be still and listen. Years ago, I got really nervous when people told me stuff that seemed so hopeless and unfixable; I’d listen for a minute, then panic and change the subject. I guess I thought I was supposed to be God’s personal mouthpiece or something, and I didn’t know what to say. Some people can play that role, can kind of put together what needs to be said and then say it. But I know I’m not one of them. I’m thinking that, on my good days, I am (at best) more like one of God’s ears. At first, when somebody starts telling me something hard, I feel that rush of panic, but then I think: God, let me see this person through your eyes, let me hear him / her with your heart. God, let me be a conduit for your kindness and understanding. When I’m thinking that way, I can relax and look the person in the eye and not be worrying about what I’m going to say when they are finished. Actually listening: Ha! – what a concept.