This is the season for giving, a season that challenges us to be our very best selves. When we pass the Salvation Army volunteers ringing the silver holiday bells with the small red buckets swinging on their stands we remember to dig into our pockets and give a little extra to help another. This type of donation is visible. It makes us feel good just knowing that in our own small way we are helping out a more needy soul.
There is another, equally important, type of donation… the fully giving of our self through our time and attention when someone needs a shoulder to lean on or an authentic ear to listen. After all, to be silenced or ignored by others is not due to the lack of a voice but rather the lack of a listener. It is the toughest form of rejection. When we care enough to fully engage ourselves in listening to another we honor and validate them – maybe even ease their burden ever so slightly for the moment. The very least that can happen when we take the time to stop what we are doing and listen is that a little time will elapse and a greater understanding will be imparted between fellow travelers. Sometimes that moment of exchange can make a world of difference. When we hear the uncomfortable stories from others who seem to be living uncomfortable lives do we really take the time to respect them as human beings or do we rush to judgment thinking to ourselves, ‘if they would just do this or that their lives wouldn’t be so difficult.’ Maybe so – maybe not. After all, we don’t walk in their shoes and are not carrying the same set of burdens or lessons to learn. We are busy with our own. Is it possible that these human beings just need a moment of our time to be heard and recognized? It is a small price to ask and even smaller price to pay.
Each of us benefits from a listening ear, an unglazed eye, and a genuine interest in what we have to say from time to time. It is the universal need that unites us as humans. Truly being heard is the highest form of recognition we can give to others. The Hallmark company used to have a saying about their greeting cards which speaks volumes, ‘When you care enough to send the very best.’ When we apply this thought to our daily encounters with others over the next few weeks, caring enough to be gentle, thoughtful and patient -to give the very best of who we are even in the midst of a stressful season that requires a million and one tasks to accomplish we make a huge difference and elevate the vibrations of our world.
Have a great few days!