Gathering Soon, and a Passage
Moving on, I've been reading A Certain Kind of Perfection by Marge Post Abbott. It's an "anthology of evangelical and liberal Quaker writers" spanning the last three centuries with a number of passages from well known, and some lesser known Friends. A particular part of a passage written by Adam Curle really stood out to me, especially pertaining to my situation with my step-mother, though it applies in all sorts of situations:
The absolute necessity for attentive listening was borne in on me very early in my experience of peace making. I became aware that what my friends and I were trying to say was often not heard, especially at the start of a meeting or if the situation were particularly tense. A question or observation would, it is true, be answered, but not responded to in any meaningful way. It was as though our words were filtered through a compound of anger, fear, resentment and perconception that radically changed their meaning. It was to this new meaning that the people we were talking with responded, often angrily and usually irrelevantly. Because of the general circumstances, what we said was often perceived as having a threatening or insulting meaning, or a perfectly straightforward question would be taken as criticism. ... We, in fact, were not being listened to, but if we had responded with irritation, it would mean that we, too, had not been listening. We assumed without question that the way to overcome these difficulties of communication was to say very little, certainly not to argue, re-explian, or contradict, but to be inwardly still and as receptive as possible. This would usually enable the storm of emotion, so natural in men under great pressure, to blow itself out.
[This can be found on page 150.]
The entire passage spoke of attentive listening, a concept important not only in our daily lives, but also spiritually. Goodness, I speak as if our daily lives are seperate from our spiritual lives - I believe they are one and the same, if only we can come to terms with that.
When my Native American friends visited me they would always fall silent, Quaker-like, and listen. How else, they asked, could they discover my condition and so speak to it, as they always did most effectively. [Found on page 151.]
There is so much truth in this, and it grounds me to read it.