Last Thursday, I went to a contemplative prayer gathering at St. Mary’s Church in Rome. I was invited by Liesl Bold, its facilitator. The group is studying Thomas Merton, and one of the disciplines that the group practices is contemplative listening.
So first we opened with short introductions, then moved into the twenty minutes of contemplative prayer, followed by reading from the Bible and also a few pages of Merton, and then comments and contemplative listening.
Contemplative listening means you just listen to the other person’s comment. You do not ready in your mind some comment of your own to piggyback onto their comment. You do not ready in your mind some disagreement or argument to make aloud. You just listen, without judging and without analyzing.
It was awesome. I saw how often we (I) simply do not listen to others. Instead, I use their words as fodder for the ever ongoing internal dialogue I am having with me, myself, and I (really, “me” again, since the objective case is needed here with the “with”).
Since Thursday, I have revisited everyone’s comments about Merton’s thoughts that we read together, and their comments have nourished my soul, as has Merton’s writing and the contemplative prayer that we all did together.