The Gift of Listening
For the past three years, I’ve spent at least one afternoon a month sitting in the nave of St Andrew’s Holborn, looking out past the font and through the open west door beyond. People enter for many reasons; I sit and wait. Some days, no one comes to sit on the pew by me, yet some will approach to ask about the icons or the church history or what qualifies me as a listener.
In the waiting I’ve come to know the architectural details of this light and open space along with the faces of the regulars who come to pray, find shelter, or simply sidestep the traffic of daily life. I wait for those who come to be heard, to be acknowledged, to reflect or to bear witness in the presence of another human being. The waiting itself is a gift.
Over the past three years, my listening has deepened through training and professionally facilitated conversations among other Listening Service volunteers. I value the sense of communion and fellowship with the other listeners and my deepening awareness of the ways in which the church draws city workers, visitors, and its itinerant and long-standing neighbours into community.
I’ve grown in trust through my experiences as a listener. I’ve learned presence, how to become the place, give attention and appreciation, without necessarily saying anything. No doubt I will continue to learn and discover and to be surprised as I listen.
To ensure that there is always someone in the nave from 12 noon to 3 pm, Monday through Thursday, the team needs to expand and new volunteers are required. If you’d like to know more, please contact the Listening Service – firstname.lastname@example.org.