Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Listening Takes Time

I am not always proud of my behavior. I had a lesson to prepare for last Thursday and four for this week (I have been teaching at the Institute of Religion across the street from the University of Washington since 2002) so while the house was relatively quiet, three out of five people gone for the morning, I decided to work at my desk. Clark had been anxious all morning and had had a couple of petit mal seizures and was generally not feeling well. We had been discussing his health all morning. We even took a mile walk where he talked a lot about how he was feeling. While I was at my desk Clark came in after his shower and started talking so periodically, while I was trying to read and prepare, I would say “uh huh”. Finally I decided to stop, look at Clark and let him talk. He talked with hardly a breath in between words for 30 minutes. I watched the clock which I could see in back of him with amazement. I maintained eye contact and would occasionally nod my head. I thought about my prayers where I had asked for help in knowing how to present these lessons. I wanted to know that God was listening to me and would help and yet I hadn’t been willing to really listen to Clark who stood six feet away, facing me, and looking me in the eye. I noticed during that 30 minutes that his face softened, there wasn’t much of the anxious look anymore nor talk about how yucky he was feeling. I was wondering how long this would go on when suddenly the screen saver started with family pictures which redirected his attention. Then the dryer stopped and he went to retrieve his jeans while I went downstairs and turned on the TV to Mister Rogers which he very happily went to watch.


  1. Thanks for that great reminder! I often find myself pretending to listen to my kids' constant gabbing. I need to remember that what may seem like insignificance to me (it's SO hard to really care how many roly-poly bugs they found outside!) might be very important to them. I don't know if I could maintain focus for 1/2 hour though! Impressive.

  2. I need to do the same thing when Clark talks to me.

  3. Nicely done Mom... happy to see you're carrying the "Technically Competent" torch for you and Pops. To be fair - I did happen to see Pops recently working in Excel and not looking completely lost. Perhaps there is hope.