Tag Archives: silence

Silence, Discernment & the Art of Listening

By Stu Whitley

This post is the first in a thee-part series.

at a conference, recently, the dais groanedunder the ponderous weight of self-important menin bow ties and eyeglasses secured with small chainsholding forth in florid phrase and vexing verbositydemonstrating the gulf between the idea and its impartingrow on row of upturned faces, seeking wheat among the chaffsorting the useful from the meretriciouspursuing truth, or at least its cousin, knowledgebut this function depends, it seems to me, upon discernmentthe capacity to know what is essentialin any given instance or competing circumstancestheir voices fade; my mind has wandered to where you areas always, all things come back to my beloved womanand much of what engages my time, presently,groans upon the dais of my existencefor I have discerned the truth; what is importantwhich more and more seems central to my life:I am listening to the only song that mattersit is simply that, I am loving you

As any good senior bureaucrat must do these days I am required to conduct Performance Reviews and complete ‘appraisal reports’ of employees for whom I am responsible. Time and again I am reminded how important it is to listen carefully. Not only to those whose efforts we are considering over the past year (as well as those in turn whose responsibility it is to assess our work against the standards we have agreed to), but also to ourselves. It is a reciprocal, introspective process that ought to be characterized by attentiveness and absorption. Time doesn’t always permit it.

The older we get, I think, the more clearly we see how important it is to be patient in our listening.

I read something a little while ago by Jose Kusugak, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, in Nunavut. He was writing about a childhood Inuit game called Aaqsiiq,
the ‘silence game’. What a wonderfully simple but elegant concept:

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