Try a Bit of Deep Listening to Get More Out of Life | Andrea Kihlstedt

Reflections on Deep Listening:

Forget everything you’ve ever done.
Make no comparisons. Simply listen.
Listen with your eyes, as if the story
you are hearing is happening right now.
Listen without blinking, as if a move
might frighten the truth away forever…
Your whole life might depend on what you hear.
Joyce Sutphen

Hear the biography, not the ideology…  When someone has a point of view we find difficult to understand, disagreeable, or even offensive, we must look to the set of circumstances that person has experienced that resulted in that point of view. Get their story, their biography, and you’ll open up the real possibility of an understanding that transcends disagreement… When you find yourself in disagreement, just ask one question: “Will you tell me your story?  I’d love to know how you came to this point of view.”
Benjamin Mathes

Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.
Parker Palmer


The practice of allowing others’ stories to help us embrace our own.
The practice of living from the inside out.
The practice of hearing the lure of our better selves.

Spiritual Practice:

Listen to a Photo

Part of deep listening is paying close attention to “the issues.” But sometimes the most important voices and messages come from paying close attention to images. One of the most powerful and provocative images to arise from the Black Lives Matter protests was the 2016 picture of Leshia Evans at the protests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana after the death of Alton Sterling.  

One of the things that makes this picture so powerful and important is the way its meaning has evolved as people have listened to each other’s reactions to it. For instance, the first reactions to it were like this one from a Twitter post:

“Grace, Beauty, Defiance, Strength: Behold Lady Liberty!”

But after such affirming responses, Leshia Evans felt she needed to add another perspective to the conversation.  She lifted up the photo’s limits and dangers, saying, “It’s safe… It is the color book version of the truth.”

So, using this article which contains a podcast and a poem about the picture, take some time this month to listen deeply to this iconic photo.

Unrest in Baton Rouge: Anatomy of a Photo

Taking It Home:  Ideas for All Ages:

Bug Buddies Day

Preparation: Parents locate drawing materials for their child(ren).
Suggested Script:  Let’s have a Bug Buddy Day. When we deeply listen to nature, we become connected to everything around us. Let’s imagine that we are different insects and are listening to each other.
What do we hear when we listen to mosquitos? It’s a high whine. Can you make that sound? (eeee).
What do we hear when we listen to a bumblebee? It’s a deep humming. Can you make that sound? (hmmm)
What do we hear when we listen to a Cicada? They are very loud and go Chica, Chica, Chica. Make the sound of a Cicada. Chica, Chica.
What do we hear when we listen to a cricket? They go chirp, chirp.
Have you ever heard a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach? They actually hiss. Hiss, Hiss.
What do we hear when we listen to a butterfly? No noise at all. They fly on silent wings.Now choose your favorite insect. Was it a mosquito, a bumblebee, a cicada, a cricket, a Hissing Cockroach or even a butterfly? I’ll count to three and we will all be Bug Buddies and make our different sounds.
That was a lot of sound to listen to!

Now it’s time to deeply listen to some bug buddy music. While you listen, I invite you to draw to what you hear. This music is called “Hummelflug” and it was written by a composer named Rimsky- Korsakov. “Hummelflug” means “Flight of the Bumblebee.”  See if it sounds like a bumblebee flying around. If you deeply listen, you can imagine other insects, too.

 Play the audio of Flight of the Bumblebee (3:20 min) (How to play music or a video on Zoom)

What did you hear when you deeply listened? What did you draw?

Musical Connection:

We create two different playlists for each of our monthly themes: one in Spotify and another in YouTube. We organize these lists as a journey of sorts. So consider listening from beginning to end and using the lists as musical meditations. Follow the links below to connect with this month’s “ Deep Listening songs.”

Click here for the Spotify playlist on Deep Listening.
Click here for the YouTube playlist on Deep Listening.

Join us to deepen our faith together:

  • Explore resources related to the monthly theme (links above)
  • Attend Sunday worship
  • Sign up for small group ministry (Soul Matters Sharing Circles and Chalice Circles)
  • Request a copy of Soulful Home (thematic resources for families)
  • Join our Parent Group (to discuss the themes in relation to parenting)