Listening to those who are suffering can be difficult because we often do not know what to say. Frequently, the best thing we can give is not words but simply our presence. Like Job’s three friends, they come and sit with him “with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.” Sometimes, just listening in silence is good.
Listening is a very active awareness of the coming together of two lives. Henri Nouwen
Sharing with another who is suffering is a privilege. Nouwen reminds us that listening is an “active awareness” and a “coming together” of two people. Healing can occur when shared stories merge. He goes on to describe this active listening as “weaving a new pattern” with “two different life stories stretched on the same loom.” This joining of hearts and stories enriches both lives. Knowing you are not suffering alone and finding others who have had common experiences can alter perspective. Sometimes, listening to each other’s shared experiences proves necessary. - dho