A few weeks ago I finishd Tony Hendra’s Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul, his best-selling memoir focused on his relationship with a Benedictine monk who inspired and supported him through the key periods of his life. Hendra was a writer for the early National Lampoon, which started when I was in my early teens, and it had an impression on me. I remembered reading an article of his in Harper’s about NatLamp, which is here, and which must have been published there on its way to the book.
The most important aspect of the book for me was the profundity of Father Joe’s gift of listening. Hendra writes of how Father Joe listened – really listened closely – to his teen angst and adult emotional crises despite Hendra’s chronic self-absorption. Father Joe thoughtfully probed with careful questions, and never judged. He demonstrated that listening is an act of love, the most important for really knowing another.
Try it. Try to listen really hard, with as much concentration as you can muster, to your spouse, your friend, your mother or sister or brother. Listen, with as much love as you can bring to bear.