“We must listen carefully and speak wisely.” There it was. A day of teaching connection, listening, and empathy and their implications in human rights field work with 70 students was drawing to a close and we were sharing our final thoughts through clay sculptures. As the clay worked its magic, helping us move through complexity to the simplicity on the other side, it drew out this statement. She was crouching on the floor with her clay modeling team and the rest of us haphazardly standing and crouching and sitting around them.
“We must listen carefully and speak wisely.” It fell with force on the room as we breathed in silence for a beat or two, soaking in the weight of this deceptively simple statement. Yes! … but how do we do that? How do we listen carefully? And how do we speak wisely? What are the assumptions and judgments we need to suspend and skills we need to employ to actually do this? Can we practice it in the face of the fear of failing and, in the process, hurting someone? And is there grace waiting for when we do fail? Because certainly we will. Perhaps we must first apply this to ourselves before we can attempt the same with others. Maybe we need to listen carefully to our worries and fears and inadequacies and then speak wisely into our own uncertainty. As our next Creative Reflective Retreat approaches, I will most certainly be contemplating this further. Listen carefully This is always the first step And then speak wisely